Saturday, May 18 2013 7:54 AM EDT2013-05-18 11:54:38 GMT
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LOUISVILLE, KY. (WDRB) -- Oldham County has agreed to pay $2.2 million to Baptist Hospital Northeast to fix its failing EMS service. It will take over on July 1st.
That's after a year of financial instability and what many workers have called poor management. The one-year deal is renewable at the end of each year. Officials say this is not privatizing EMS, but rather a community partnership.
EMS board member Stan Clark says, "The goal is, how can I deliver the service most efficiently with the best cost."
The county will continue to own the facilities and equipment while the hospital runs the operation and covers the cost of supplies and employees. Those employees must re-apply for their jobs. Any profits or losses will be split between the hospital and the county.
The agency said Tuesday it will need another half-million dollars from Fiscal Court to make payroll from August through November. Last year, Oldham County EMS overspent by over $300,000 and was forced to borrow almost $1 million from the county.
Leaders say rates are not going to change with this deal, so how will the hospital run EMS differently? Baptist Hospital Northeast President Christopher Roty explains, "We've got the resources, we've got the purchasing power. We'll also be working on a strategic plan with the taxing district, and, based on what comes out of that, we're going to execute what we can out of that."
Oldham Co. Judge/Executive David Voegele adds, "We believe the community is going to find that this transition will be seamless. People who need help will still dial 911, get help, and they'll be able to choose any healthcare facility of their choice."
Not one EMT or medic attended Tuesday's event. Only one would speak, under the condition of anonymity: "I'm concerned about the safety of the community. Why? We don't know what they're going to do. We've been lied to since day one."
Some paramedics say they are concerned about the changes and that morale is at an all-time low; they also fear for public safety. "We're losing our retirement," the anonymous worker says. "Our benefits are changing and we're losing our vacation time."