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CBC: Toronto woman left stranded as EMS reduces non-emergency transfers

Firestormm

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Toronto woman left stranded as EMS reduces non-emergency transfers
Liisa Lugus has been left bedridden for more than a decade by chronic fatigue syndrome
http://www.cbc.ca/news/cbc-news-online-news-staff-list-1.1294364

CBC News Posted: May 28, 2014 5:58 PM ET

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Video: http://www.cbc.ca/player/News/Canada/Toronto/ID/2460585694/


A Toronto woman who has been bedridden for nearly 11 years due to an illness says she has been unable to attend medical appointments since the city's emergency medical services recently began phasing out non-emergency transfers.

Liisa Lugus suffers from a severe form of myalgic encephalomyelitis, or chronic fatigue syndrome, a condition that has left her unable to sit up in a wheelchair or even sit at the side of her bed without experiencing transient paralysis and intense pain. It also affects her speech.

As recently as 2013, Toronto Emergency Medical Services transported her on a stretcher to medical appointments several times a year, she says.

Lugus noted that during her most recent calls last year, dispatchers asked more questions, required more specific details about where she was going and why, and seemed more reluctant to send a paramedic.

"Now when I try to call they say: 'We can’t service you,'" Lugus said. "I’m hoping to just raise some awareness because the service just silently disappeared."

'We just don't have that capacity anymore'
Kim McKinnon, a media liaison and spokesperson with Toronto EMS, told CBC News that until about 10 years ago, non-emergency transfers made up nearly 50 per cent of all transfers. Currently, less than 10 per cent of paramedic-assisted rides are for non-emergency transfers.

Non-emergency transfers have been slowly phased out as overwhelming demand from an aging population has forced Toronto EMS to reallocate resources to high-priority emergency calls, says deputy chief of EMS communications Gord McEachen.

"We've had to reassign those paramedics and that fleet to do emergency calls first. We just don’t have that capacity anymore," he said.

Toronto EMS currently receives about 800 calls a day for patients requiring urgent medical attention, a number that has increased three to four per cent annually for the past decade, according to McEachen...

Read more: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toron...ems-reduces-non-emergency-transfers-1.2656395