WCMH terminates ambulance service PDF Print E-mail
Written by Administrator   
Wednesday, 25 November 2009 00:00
    Washington County Memorial Hospital has sent the county verbal notice that they are terminating the contact to provide ambulance service to the county effective Jan. 1.
    That announcement was made at a special news briefing at the hospital Friday afternoon.
    “This is not a surprise,” said interim WCMH CEO Joseph Roche. “We've worked for months with the commissioners and council in planning for the ambulance transition.”
    Roche said the move is part of the process in the WCMH Chapter 11 bankruptcy process.
    “One of the realities of being in Chapter 11 is that we are required to reject contracts that we don't intend on keeping out of reorganization,” he said. “The ambulance contract is one that the hospital, because of the losses we sustained, knew we couldn't get out of bankruptcy and continue to do the ambulance service.”
    Roche said the contract for ambulance service was entered into by the county in 1984.
    WCMH was required to provide 30 days notice before Jan. 1 or the contract for ambulance service would have renewed for another year.
    “We met today (Friday, Nov. 20) with the ambulance staff to let them know,” Roche said. “Our hope is somebody will provide ambulance service here in Washington County and we will work with elected county officials to make that transition smooth.
    “We also hope that all of our current ambulance employees will have jobs with whoever the county selects to provide the ambulance service.”
    Roche said work has been done for the last six months on a near weekly basis to resolve the ambulance service.
    Washington County Commissioners are expected to meet with a representative from Knox County at their next meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 8.
    Roche, WCMH Director of Marketing and Public Affairs Melissa Richardson and Vice President of Operations Jim Steggeman also gave an update on the economic impact the hospital has on Washington County.
    The hospital currently employees 217 people and the average salary is $46,000 and with benefits people have a total compensation of about $57,000 on average.
    WCMH's payroll is a little more than $1 million a month, which is a yearly total of $15,452,350.
    Those who work in economic development in conjunction with the hospital use a 1.6746 multiplier to determine that an additional 147 jobs are created in the community by WCMH, bringing the total to 365 jobs.
    “Those are fringe jobs,” Richardson said. “Vendors, suppliers, trash pickup and electric – because the hospital is here, those jobs are out there.”
    Because of those jobs, the hospital's total financial impact on the community is $31,000,000.
    “The other part of it that these numbers don't address is that with the hospital, doctors set up offices and without a hospital communities lose those physicians,” Roche said. “It's not only the economic impact, but the access to health care, emergency rooms, doctors and all of that, which is hard to measure economically.”
    Roche said coming out of bankruptcy there are a lot of challenges still facing the hospital.
    One of the challenges is Medicare. Roche said when all of the proceedings are completed there are amounts the hospital may owe back to Medicare.
    “A challenge before us is going to be, who is responsible for that?” Roche asked. “Is it St. Vincent? Is it the county? I think our hope is that bringing those parties together everyone will understand that are shouldering some of that responsibility to keep what truly is an important economic engine in place in the community.”
    Roche said within the next week or two they have to file that plan with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New Albany.
    “Once that plan is approved that will be the opportunity for other organizations who want to buy the hospital and pay more than St. Vincent has offered will have an opportunity to put that bid in.”
    Roche said if someone else bids higher they could get it, but I think they would give St. Vincent an opportunity to match it, or beginning a bidding process.
    “Ultimately the court will decide what the best plan is,” Roche said.
    The bankruptcy process is scheduled to be be settled after Jan. 1.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 24 November 2009 12:54