OTTAWA -- Paramedics in Ottawa will soon have more options to treat palliative patients.

On Monday, Ontario’s Health Minister announced that a one-year pilot program will be launched in the Capital, giving paramedics the option to treat and refer palliative patients.

On hundreds of occasions in 2019 there were no ambulances to respond to medical emergencies in Ottawa, according to a 2019 City report.

One of the longest waits identified was in June where seven and a half hours went by with no ambulance available.

“All too frequently people can’t get the care they need, when they need it the most,” Health Minister Christine Elliot said at a news conference.

According to the province, the new 9-1-1 models of care are part of an effort to reduce hospital visits and end hallway healthcare.

Under the new model, eligible patients can be treated in their home or referred to an approved health care facility.

“The hospital isn’t always the best place for a patient to receive care, especially at a time where far too many hospitals are already operating at over 100 per cent capacity,” Elliot said.

“Most Ontarians with life-limited illnesses would prefer to be cared for and to die at home rather than in a hospital,” according to a provincial Palliative and End-Of-Life Care Provincial Roundtable Report.

Emergency department volumes in the province have been increasing every year by 22 per cent over the last decade, Elliot said. The pilot project would eliminate the number of patients in emergency departments and give patients more control of the care they receive.

“This is really big, important news for Bruyere. In particular, because it enables us to work more closely with the paramedics and it extends our ability to provide that timely, just-in-time care for palliative patients where they are,” said Dr. James Downar, a physician and researcher at Bruyere.

The Chief of the Ottawa Paramedic Service said he’s pleased with the announcement.

“This pilot will give palliative patients and their families a 24/7 option to gain access to urgent palliative care when they need it, and enable these patients to receive treatment in their homes should they choose,” said Peter Kelly in an e-mailed statement.

The project will being April, 2020.