Pa. hospital to discontinue community EMS
Discontinue ambulance, paramedic and emergency medical technician services
By Lauren Boyer
York Daily Record
YORK, Pa. — WellSpan's York Hospital will discontinue ambulance, paramedic and emergency medical technician services to the community.
Along with staffing its own EMS team, the health-care provider leases emergency medical technicians for basic life support services and paramedics for advanced life support to various ambulance companies in the area, said spokesman Barry Sparks.
Letters are currently in the mail to notify those groups that WellSpan will no longer lease that personnel. The decision was made Tuesday night, Sparks said.
Depending on individual contracts with different ambulance companies, Sparks said, that service could be discontinued between 90 to 120 days.
"Our region is fortunate to have many skilled and capable first responders, such as local fire companies and private providers of BLS and ALS services, and WellSpan has a long history of working closely with them," Sparks said. "We look forward to engaging with these organizations to assess and develop plans that will ensure the effective and efficient provision of these services."
Sparks added that York County has enough private providers to meet the community's needs.
In Adams County, WellSpan's Gettysburg Hospital will work to transition basic life support services to the multiple providers currently in place, Sparks said.
As Adams County's only provider of advanced life support, the hospital will work with area fire companies and community leaders over the next 18 to 24 months to
evaluate the best way to provide these services in the future.
WellSpan began offering emergency medical services more than 30 years ago - a time when the coverage and availability of paramedics in the York-Adams area didn't exist.
Since then, municipal fire companies and private ambulance companies have become more prevalent, Sparks said.
"The challenges of a changing health care environment require the hospitals to focus on quality of care measures for hospitalized patients and preventative care efforts throughout our region," he added.
It is "uncertain at this point," Sparks said, how many WellSpan employees will lose their jobs as a result of the decision.
Emergency responders react
The decision impacts ambulance companies differently depending on their relationship - or lack thereof - with WellSpan's emergency medical services.
In Stewartstown, the changes could cause a delay in the arrival of advanced life support services, said Bonnie Henry, EMS administrator for Eureka Fire and Ambulance.
The company is a "basic life support" service that uses a paramedic "chase truck" that follows behind the ambulance when it responds to advanced life support, or "Class 1," calls, Henry said.
WellSpan rents a building from Eureka to house its advanced life support paramedics, Henry said.
That building is located, conveniently, next to the Eureka fire house.
When WellSpan's paramedics vacate, Eureka will need to call upon the next closest ALS service to respond to those most serious calls.
"We cover a 75-square-mile area," Henry said. "If they're not here, we reach out to a neighboring ALS service. That could add another 10 miles. We could actually reach all the way up to Dover Township for ALS services."
She said Eureka learned of the changes through Facebook posts from WellSpan staff, who were notified of the changes Tuesday night.
"Nobody had the courtesy to call," she said.
Jacobus Lions Club also leases paramedics from WellSpan, said Brad Ream, EMS manager for Jacobus Lions Ambulance Club.
Unlike Eureka, the club is a licensed mobile intensive care unit which carries EMTs and paramedics on the same vehicle.
|McClatchy-Tribune News Service|