Caldwell County EMS has stopped non-emergency transports from Caldwell UNC Health Care to other medical facilities. The change comes as calls for non-emergency transports increases as services at Caldwell UNC decrease.
“The reduction of services at Caldwell UNC is putting patients at risk and costing taxpayers money,” said Caldwell County Manager Donald Duncan. “When we accept optional, routine inter-facility transports, it jeopardizes patient health and adversely impacts the ability of EMS personal to provide emergency response to the rest of the community.”
Hospitals may request non-emergency transfer between medical facilities, but absent a state or local law, regulation or protocol, they cannot require EMS to facilitate an inter-facility transfer.
“The hospital, and hospital system, has more resources — politically, financially and personnel-wise — than the EMS system, and we would like to establish a partnership rather than the facility attempt to shift their responsibility to our EMS system and other healthcare facilities.” said Caldwell County Emergency Services Chief Dino DiBernardi.
Last year, nearly 70% of patients were transported to Caldwell while 30.14% were taken to other medical facilities, 28.22% being to neighboring counties.
In addition to taking EMS crews out of service for extended periods of time, non-emergency transports between facilities cost the county tax dollars for fuel, wear and tear on ambulances, and personnel. This fiscal year alone, the amount in unpaid inter-facility transports totals nearly $100,000 after insurance, Medicare, and Medicaid payments.
“Without the hospital reimbursing for the non-emergency transports provided by EMS, those costs are transferred to the patient, and when unpaid, to the taxpayers,” said Duncan.
Caldwell County has made multiple attempts to reach UNC Health Care leadership without success, forcing the county, to make the decision to stop non-emergency transports from the hospital. EMS will continue to transport patients facing life-threatening illness from Caldwell UNC to other medical facilities.
Caldwell EMS is committed to provided outstanding emergency, pre-hospital care to its patients and will transport patients to the nearest medical facility capable of furnishing the required care for the patient’s illness or injury.