By Matthew Murray 
BELLEVILLE – The future of a house-call program for 60 patients in the Belleville area is looking uncertain.
Hastings-Quinte Emergency Services ‘ paramedicine program began in January. It aims to cut down on the number of ambulance calls by patients who need treatment that could be done in their home. Patients are chosen for the program based on their medical condition and the number of 911 calls they have made in the previous year.
Carl Bowker, deputy chief of operations at Hastings-Quinte EMS, says the program includes research. It looks at health outcomes for both patients receiving home care and a control group whose members are not.
This research is intended to evaluate whether the home-care program has affected such things such as emergency-room visits, hospital admissions and overall client health and satisfaction with the program, Bowker said.
Funding for the pilot project is set to end in January 2016. Hastings-Quinte EMS has asked the province to share some of the fees it charges patients  for ambulance runs to keep the program funded.
Should the program lose funding, Bowker said, Hastings-Quinte EMS is looking into whether it will be able to continue to provide home care. Discussions with the Community Care Access Centre  and other community support services have started, he said.
The house-call program provides a unique service to the community, but running it without more funding will be difficult, Bowker said.
“There’s a lot of avenues that we can explore, but without additional funding it’s going to be a challenge to maintain the program. We don’t want to terminate anyone who really requires our help, but at the same time, we need funding to sustain it. We’re still hopeful.”