How Far is Richmond from Jersey City?

Okay, so one answer to the question is 330 miles along I-95. However, I am not referring to their physical distance apart, but rather the enormous distance in their thinking about EMS. Both cities have invested in building impressive systems, they just seem to disagree on the value of their creations.

It has not even been two years since JEMS magazine was lauding Jersey Center Medical Center EMS (JCMCEMS) for achieving an unprecedented five national accreditations after a stunning turnaround that began only back in 2005. By all accounts, JCMCEMS has become a leading EMS service in the last few years that has shown an impressive attention to detail and creativity. Innovations such as accurately positioning units in anticipation of calls have seen a corresponding reduction in response time that has directly contributed to saving lives. Yet in the last few months, JCMCEMS has again begun a fight for its life in keeping a contract it has held for 130 years. The Jersey City mayor, Steve Fulop, has actively campaigned to replace the Jersey City Medical Center as EMS provider with CarePoint Health/McCabe Ambulance Services. What appears to be the issue is that JCMCEMS had charged the city for providing the service in order to upgrade the overall system while McCabe now offers to pay the city $2.6M for the privilege of operating the service. The end of this story hasn’t been written yet, but the mere fact it is still an open question should send shudders down the spines of any EMS managers that are planning and building toward a new health care future.

The Richmond Ambulance Authority (RAA), on the other hand, is a relative newcomer as a municipal EMS provider with a charter that dates only to 1991. But in a very short time, they have become recognized not only nationally by being one of less than a dozen services (along with Jersey City) to achieve accreditation from both the Commission on Accreditation of Ambulance Services (CAAS) and the National Academy of Emergency Dispatch (NAED) but garnered international recognition as well. By leveraging this investment, Richmond has chosen to promote its EMS and medical institutions as an engine of health care practice and innovation in a 2013 plan “The Future of Health Care in the Richmond Region” that seeks to drive innovation throughout the region in collaboration with the state to influence the creation of new models in health care delivery around the world. Already, the idea of EMS as Competitive Economic Advantage is inspiring hope.

The basic question in disagreement between these cities who have both built similar successful systems, is whether EMS is fundamentally a “service” simply to be provided as cost effectively as possible, or is it an “asset” that could be nurtured not only for the health of its people but for the very health of its future economy as well. It appears that these two cities may choose different paths and only some future hindsight will give us vision as to which made the better choice.

1 Comment

  • Skip Kirkwood says:

    Or is it a commodity to be auctioned off to the highest bidder.

    Why do cities do things like this? Because they can! Nobody outsources police or fire, because it is built in to city charters and such. A few years back, an NJ town wanted to outsource its PD to a private security firm. Guess what – the attorney general said “not legal.”

    We need to spend some time assuring that EMS has legal status, and is not just a political object for bargaining. For that we have to work together.

    Well….I guess that possibility is dead….

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High Performance Emergency Medical Services (HP-EMS) systems provide effective clinical care promoting positive patient outcomes and community wellness while maintaining a focus on improving economic efficiency of the system.  This site is dedicated as a community seeking to increase agency performance by promoting useful information regarding the developing trends and improvements in the efficiency of delivering basic and advanced medical care in the field.

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Comments
Matt Zavadsky
What Higher EMS Pay Requires
This article is spot on - the rapidly changing healthcare finance environment is a game changer for us - IF, and ONLY IF, we can prove that we bring value to the payer... Does our care make a difference in the patient's experience of care, outcome and cost of care... By assessing our patient satisfaction,…
2015-06-17 08:38:01
Steven Lichtenberg
What Higher EMS Pay Requires
The biggest issue in pay scales is one you hit on directly. Payment for service rendered is solely based on transports. Refusals/DNR/DOA etc are not reimbursed. Once Medicare determines that we are in fact medical professionals and not "ambulance drivers" and pays for care rendered we have a chance. Community paramedicine is one mechanism for…
2015-06-16 21:47:53
daleloberger
What Higher EMS Pay Requires
Thank you for making the comment, Kim. I suspect you may have missed my meaning in that statement though. The passionate folks in EMS are some of the hardest working people I know. My complaint is certainly not that "we" don't put enough into our jobs to deserve better pay, it is that we must…
2015-06-16 18:13:18
Kim
What Higher EMS Pay Requires
"Wages will change when we decide to work for them." I don't know about you but I have been busting my butt for 24 years for better wages. I continually educate myself to gain knowledge beyond my scope. My scope of practice limits what I'm allowed to do but it doesn't limit what I am…
2015-06-16 12:38:23
Kim
What Higher EMS Pay Requires
I have worked for companies that were union and companies that were non union. The pay is always the same. I have been in EMS for 24 years and I have never earned a living wage. I always have to have multiple jobs just to get by. No vacations, no credit cards and no car…
2015-06-16 12:15:12

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