IU Health Starke Hospital to Wait to Contract with Private Ambulance Service

IU Health Starke Hospital

IU Health Starke Hospital officials have agreed to wait at least until the second quarter of 2012 to sign a contract with a private ambulance service to provide emergency transfers from Starke to other acute care hospitals.

At issue was a plan that would have cost the local EMS $100,000 if it lost the Basic Life Support patients that it has been transferring in the past.

IU Health Starke Hospital was seeking a company that would provide Advanced Life Support service for transfers, which the local EMS could not provide at this time. But, the sticking point was that all private companies wanted both ALS and BLS transfers to make it worth its while. Losing the BLS transfers would have cost the local EMS $100,000.

Paul Mathewson, the EMS Director, has come up with a plan to provide ALS transfer service in the very near future.

“If IU Health Starke needs an ALS transfer or medic three when it comes to ALS, we’ll respond to that call which is right across the parking lot there,” said Mathewson. “What we’re going to look into initiate for these ALS transfers so that the county isn’t short ALS members is an on-call paramedic system, that when this transfer goes out, to ensure that the county still has ALS coverage for that transfer, we’ll get this on-call paramedic system going, they’ll come in to cover ALS for the county.”

The local EMS service has at least two staff members that could be ALS ready by June and Mathewson said he has other paramedics who are seeking employment now.

County officials have already earmarked money for the ambulances to upgrade them for ALS runs.

“Each ambulance that we’re going to have, initially, at a medic three base that holds two, they’ll all be certified, but they’ll have the equipment on them,” said Mathewson. “So when ALS goes, the second ambulance has a monitor and everything we need to take an ALS call.”

Linda Satkoski, Hospital CEO, emphasized that a contract will be signed later than anticipated.

“We are absolutely willing to wait until second quarter. We will not sign any contracts,” said Linda Satkoski.

To that end the hospital and Mathewson have been working in co-operation to make the upgrade happen. Both sides expressed a desire to work together in a meeting with the county commissioners yesterday.