Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Non-Emergency Ambulance Transfers Debated

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Non-Emergency Ambulance Transfers Debated

Article excerpt

The St. Charles County Ambulance District should make changes in how non-emergency transfers are handled, several candidates for the ambulance district's board of directors say.

Others argue that the current system works well.

Non-emergency, or routine, transfers generally involve transporting a person from a nursing home to a hospital - for surgery, for example - or from one hospital to another. Although these patients may need some life support, they aren't considered "emergency" transports, such as when a person is taken by ambulance from an automobile accident to a hospital. Steve Gilkey, an electrician and former volunteer firefighter, and Ellen L. Wallace, medical coordinator for the county Department of Corrections, are vying for a three-year term on the ambulance district's board of directors from the 1st District in the St. Charles area. Vickie Garwacki, a flight attendant, and Frank F. Martinez, a retired businessman, are the candidates for a seat representing the 3rd District in the St. Peters area. Gilkey, 33, of the Orchard Farm area, said he would like to see the district return to its former method of handling non-emergency transfers, under which an ambulance crew was designated to handle only routine transfers. The district currently sends the closest ambulance to handle routine transfers, then shifts other ambulance crews to make sure the busiest stations are always manned. The current plan has the benefit of getting routine transfers completed so those patients can arrive on schedule, for example, for surgery. Others argue, though, that shifting ambulance crews away from less busy areas to replace crews doing routine transfers means slower response times for residents in the quieter areas. Gilkey argued that the money raised through routine transfers - about 40 percent of the district's income - is too vital to hand over to a private ambulance service. Instead, the former system of having a designated non-emergency transfer division should be reinstated, he said. Wallace, 44, of St. Charles, agreed that handling routine transfers can be done more efficiently. …

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