Hospital CEO outlines position on ambulance service|
(Editor’s note: This letter from Langlade Hospital CEO Dave Schneider was read at Wednesday’s meeting of the city’s Finance, Personnel & Legislative Committee. It outlines the hospital’s position on possible changes to the city’s ambulance service. The Antigo Journal requested, and received, permission to print it as a letter to the editor.)
Dear Mayor Brandt and Committee,
The purpose of this letter is to outline Langlade Hospital's position concerning the operations of the county-wide Emergency Medical and Ambulance services operated by the City of Antigo Fire Department. There has been a great deal of publicity recently concerning the Mayor's stated intention to outsource the operations of the EMS service and I would like the hospital's position in this important matter to be clearly stated.
The Antigo Fire Department is Langlade County's primary emergency responder and provides excellent emergency medical services. The well trained paramedics and EMTs take their public safety responsibilities very seriously and consistently deliver a high quality of patient care. The hospital depends upon the AFD to provide quick response and transportation of seriously ill patients. Our STEMI program for heart attack victims is premised on rapid transport and diagnosis to assure the best possible outcome for the patient. For victims of trauma, a quick emergency medical response and transport is essential to give hospital personnel as much time as possible to stabilize the patient—seconds and minutes matter in these critical situations.
We understand that the city, like many other municipalities, has been faced with serious economic challenges and is considering options to further reduce costs and ease the financial burden to the taxpayers. Further efforts by the city to reduce the costs of the AFD operations, especially through the reduction of personnel, may erode the quality of the service and, we believe, would not be in the best interest of the citizens of Langlade County. The hospital has a vested interest in seeing the emergency medical services maintained at its current level of quality and scope. That is why the hospital funded the cost of a study by the Ludwig Group, experts in emergency medical services, to determine the best options for assuring the long term viability of high quality emergency medical services in Langlade County. On June 28, we will be reviewing the results of this study with the EMS Task Group, which was overseeing the study.
We have been in discussions with the Mayor for some time about the ambulance service and want to be supportive of the city and county as they evaluate options for maintaining the service. However, the hospital is not seeking to take over the ambulance service and never has. It has been the hospital's long standing position, dating back to 1993 when the county terminated the private ambulance service contract, that we would consider operating the ambulance service if a viable high quality alternative was not available. This remains our position today.
If the city decides to outsource its EMS service, it is our recommendation that the city prepare a formal request for proposal, which would outline the parameters under which the city would consider an alternative provider. The request could be sent to the hospital and other potential service providers to consider and respond to. That way, the city could evaluate the responses it receives and determine the best option for outsourcing the service.
If the hospital were to become the provider of EMS services for Langlade County, it would be important to determine the scope of the service, the qualifications and experience of the personnel that would be available, the startup challenges that would need to be addressed, the level of city and county subsidization and the disposition of the equipment and ambulances. These are complex issues and would require considerable time to address and resolve. Any recommendation from the hospital administration to provide the EMS service would require approval of the hospital board, as well as the Religious Hospitallers of St. Joseph and Aspirus.
Finally, the hospital is also concerned about the quality and level of fire services that would be available in Antigo. The hospital depends upon the AFD for professional service and quick response times because many of our patients have limited mobility and would be at serious risk in the event of a hospital fire. So discussions regarding the possible outsourcing of the ambulance service are important to the hospital because of the potential impact on the quality of the fire service as well.
Our partnership with the Antigo Fire Department in providing emergency services over the past 20 years has been a productive and successful one. And many lives have been saved as a result of the teamwork and professionalism of the personnel involved. Langlade Hospital is willing to assist the city and the county in exploring options and developing a strategy that will assure the long term viability and quality of Emergency Medical Services in Langlade County. We will wait to hear from the city regarding its plans to address this vital public safety matter.
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