HCMH reducing EMS staff
Four positions to be eliminated in response to budget deficit
Kerry Craig | News-Telegram Assistant Editor

Aug. 25, 2005 -- A projected budget deficit at Hopkins County Memorial Hospital has prompted a plan to cut emergency medical services staff and the number of ambulances that will be operating full-time.

Under the new plan, Hopkins County Emergency Medical Services would reduce the number of primary response ambulances between 5 p.m. and 8 a.m. and cut four full-time positions and changing two other full-time slots to part time.

“We are looking at a budget deficit, and no business can run on a deficit,” said Michael McAndrew, Hopkins County Memorial Hospital’s chief executive officer. “We asked all of our managers to give us some ideas were we might make some cuts that would not hurt service. We are not going to be cutting any patient care positions.”

Reimbursement, or payments, from Medicare, Medicaid and private insurance is always a concern. The continued reduction in payments has played a significant role in the decision to make changes in EMS operations.

“We are, quite frankly, looking at a pretty significant deficit this year,” McAndrew said. “It is promising to be worse in the upcoming budget year.”

EMS Director Mark Potter said the change would not mean a reduction in the level of service provided, but would reduce the number of first-out ambulances during off-peak hours.

“Instead of having three trucks on the ready 24 hours a day, we are going to have two trucks 24 hours a day, and a third that will be staffed during our peak call hours,” Potter said. “After that, the third truck will go to an on-call status to handle transfers, or if we have too many 911 calls, we will call them back in to cover.”

One ambulance and crew is usually kept busy during regular business hours making transfers. After those hours, the need for a third ambulance is reduced.

“We thought that, logically, it made sense to look at cutting back that ambulance after the big rush was over,” McAndrew explained. “That is where the focus of this is.”

The planned changes will become effective with the start of the new fiscal year, which begins on Oct. 1

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