MDH Approves Contract Agreement with Lifeguard
During a special meeting of the McDonough District Hospital Board of Directors on Monday afternoon (Oct. 9), a contract with Lifeguard Ambulance Service got approved on a 6-1 vote. The transition to Lifeguard, which will increase ambulance services for McDonough County, will go into effect in 90 days (after the first of the year).
MDH President/CEO Kenny Boyd explained how the new privatization agreement will benefit both the hospital and residents of McDonough County.
“The benefits of privatization and partnership with Lifeguard, the biggest piece is having a company that is an expert in the operation of EMS 911 services and dedicates its entire time, attention and resources to that one entity. The other piece will be improvement in services that will be offered to the community,” said Boyd. “Currently we staff two ambulances 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. This agreement will add a 12-hour truck per day 365 days per year, plus the addition of a chief paramedic who will also have access to a Quick Response Vehicle (QRV). If you look at the additional resources and the additional expertise that will bring, which is something we don’t have and we’ve struggled with basic staffing pieces, I believe the biggest benefit will be improved 911 EMS services to the residents of the county.”
The total loss of running ambulance services on average the last several years was $254,000 annually. That included two 24-hour ambulances running 365 days per year and four trucks total. The new contract will provide the same two 24-hour ambulances but also add an additional 12-hour ambulance and one QRV with paramedic manager on call – going from four emergency vehicles to six. It also puts Lifeguard responsible for all 911 and non-emergency ground transfers.
In addition, Lifeguard will continue the current relationship with county volunteer squads, while MDH will continue to provide necessary training support and an annual stipend of $147,000 with a negotiated annual consumer price index increase.
MDH anticipates an estimated annual savings of $100,000 and the county sees an increase in emergency personnel and equipment. Lifeguard’s second part of the contract, this with the City of Macomb, was passed last week. The company will take on all current ambulance employees at their current pay rate and credit of years of service.
“Our loss per year average over the past seven years was higher than what we originally said. Our savings could have been down to zero like I pointed out in the Board meeting today. If we did an apples to apples transition of services - so if we had Lifeguard provide only what we are providing today moving forward - that subsidy would all but go away. But as we looked at it we don’t feel that is the right thing for the community as a whole,” said Boyd. “By adding the extra 12-hour truck per day, by adding a chief paramedic and Quick Response Vehicle, that is the majority if not all of the requested stipend. When you look at that, we believe that was a fair investment, and continue to provide the EMS services on an improved level for the community.”
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