It appears a new program in Windsor-Essex is helping improve the health of local residents.

The Vulnerable Patient Navigator program administered by Essex-Windsor EMS is being credited with a 40 per cent reduction in calls to 9-1-1.

The program started in 2016, providing ongoing care and attention to the people who need it most and called 9-1-1 for local ambulance service at least three times per year.

The program has also helped reduce offload delays at hospitals.

“A patient who is utilizing 911 frequently causes a greater strain on the health care system than a patient whose health care needs can be managed with regular care and attention,” said Essex-Windsor EMS Chief Bruce Krauter. “The VPN program is providing better care to those who need it most while working to reduce the burden on the regional health care system as a whole.”

About 92 per cent of patients who received home visits under the program said they were “highly satisfied” with the level of service received. About 61 per cent of survey respondents said they were “highly satisfied” the program made their quality of life better while the remaining 39 per cent said they were “somewhat satisfied.”

Nearly 350 patients have been enrolled in the program and, on average, the VPN team connects patients to 30 support agencies per month, monitoring their progress to ensure follow up care is provided.

Patients enrolled in VPN “experienced a decrease in pain, discomfort, depression and anxiety.

Participants reported an increase in overall improvement to their health state.”

Over and above regular home visits, the VPN team holds health care and promotion clinics in two high-use apartment buildings, where emergency call volumes are down by 40 per cent.