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Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott says the pilot project is part of the government’s plan to ease hospital overcrowding and end so-called hallway health care.Cole Burston/The Globe and Mail

Ontario is launching a new pilot project that will allow paramedics to treat palliative care patients on scene for symptoms, rather than being obligated to take them to hospital.

Health Minister Christine Elliott says it is part of the government’s plan to ease hospital overcrowding and end what has been called hallway health care.

The one-year pilot will be run in Ottawa, starting in April, and is the first project under new ambulance rules to let paramedics take patients to facilities other than a hospital emergency department.

Other pilot projects are in the works to allow paramedics to take patients to mental health and addictions crisis centres.

Under the Ottawa trial run, specially trained paramedics will be able to treat palliative-care patients, including administering medication for pain relief, shortness of breath, hallucinations, nausea, vomiting and terminal congested breathing.

The government says the patient can ask at any time to instead be taken to a hospital.

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