Columbus Mayor Kristen Brown wants details now on future ambulance service, but a county official said what she wants doesn’t exist.
Bartholomew Council Council member Larry Fisher, who also heads the Columbus Emergency Ambulance Services Board, said he hopes to have by Tuesday at least some of the specifics requested by Brown on a proposed five-year emergency ambulance contract with Columbus Regional Hospital.
The Columbus Board of Works and Public Safety is scheduled to make a decision on the city’s emergency ambulance provider on Tuesday. The ambulance board voted last week to recommend the city and county choose the hospital as the provider, but the vote was advisory and not binding on the Board of Works.
Under the five-year contract proposed by the hospital, the county would pay $300,000 in subsidies for one year while the city of Columbus would pay nothing in 2013. After that, subsidies for ambulance service are expected to end. The ambulance board voted 3-2 on July 27 to recommend the contract.
During an informational meeting Wednesday for the County Council, Brown asked the hospital and ambulance board members for details on how the hospital’s flexible, tiered proposal would ensure public safety and stability. She said there are too many unknown factors at this time.
“We hope we have something solid to give her before Tuesday,” Fisher said. “I’m really not sure what it is she’s looking for. But we’re trying to accommodate.”
After the meeting, County Commissioner Carl Lienhoop, also a member of the ambulance services board, said he told Fisher he felt the ambulance service board meeting scheduled for Thursday would be “unproductive and unnecessary.” Fisher canceled that meeting.
The County Commissioners did discuss a revised proposal from the hospital during their weekly work session Thursday, according to Lienhoop.
“But we knew the mayor probably wouldn’t accept it,” Lienhoop said. “There’s still some talk going on. And I’m still hopeful something can be worked out with the hospital. But we won’t have the ambulance contract on the commissioners’ agenda Monday. And I’m not sure right now we’ll have anything for the Board of Works on Tuesday.”
The flexibility outlined in the proposed contract refers to a provision that would allow CRH to occasionally use one of the four 911 ambulances for more profitable non-emergency runs.
A tiered system would allow the emergency dispatcher to determine whether paramedics or less-expensive emergency medical technicians should be sent on an ambulance run.
The current contract with the hospital stipulates that all four ambulances be staffed with paramedics.
“Considering that half the runs we do could be taken care of by an EMT, I think we can actually have better service overall with possibly more of a tiered system,” said Dr. Jason May, an ambulance board member and chief of staff at the hospital.
“There are also paramedics on the Fire Department that are also on scene,” May said. “They have all the advanced lifesaving skills provided by our ambulances. When you combine them, you can have the advanced life support, economy of scale and better response time if you can spread that out.”
But May added many details will have to be ironed out over time. They include proper dispatcher training, decisions on where paramedics and EMTs should be stationed, and how the fire department and ambulance can work together to ensure the best emergency care and service.
If you go
Proposed recommendation of Columbus Regional Hospital as primary ambulance provider for Columbus and Bartholomew County.
Monday — Removed from the Bartholomew County Commissioners’ 10 a.m. agenda.
Tuesday — Tentatively scheduled for a vote by the Columbus Board of Works and Public Safety, 10 a.m., Columbus City Hall.
Think your friends should see this? Share it with them!comments powered by Disqus
All content copyright ©2013 The Republic, a division of Home News Enterprises unless otherwise noted.