Transport franchise approved

Published 9:44 pm Monday, December 22, 2014

WINTON – It took a portion of one regularly scheduled meeting and a 32-minute closed session of another to iron out the details of granting an Ambulance Franchise to an entity outside of Hertford County.

At their Dec. 15 meeting, the Hertford County Commissioners approved an operational franchise to GatesCountyEMS. However, that franchise is only limited to the sole purpose of providing ALS non-emergency, paramedic level transport out of Vidant Roanoke-Chowan Hospital.

At their Dec. 1 meeting, the Commissioners were advised by Hertford County EMS Director James Broglin that the Transportation Advisory Committee met Nov. 5 to review current franchises as well as to study two new applications. Broglin said the committee discussed if there was a need for additional agents to provide medical transport.

“A representative from Vidant Roanoke-Chowan Hospital explained to the committee of the concerns and issues the hospital is having with getting paramedic level transport service in a timely manner,” Broglin said at the Dec. 1 meeting. “The committee learned that in the last three months there have been 277 transports out of the ED (Emergency Department) and 173 have been paramedic level.”

Broglin went on to explain that the hospital has a goal to have a patient in transit from RCH to a higher level care facility within 30 minutes from the point of where a transport service is first contacted.

“Currently that goal is only being met about 50 percent of the time,” Broglin told the Commissioners.

He added that the Transportation Advisory Committee was in agreement that the county needed one additional transport service at this time. The committee recommended the Commissioners grant an operational franchise to Gates County EMS, only for the purpose of providing ALS non-emergency transport out of Vidant Roanoke-Chowan Hospital.

Following Broglin’s presentation, the Commissioners opted to table the issue for further study.

It was back on the board’s Dec. 15 agenda where the Commissioners immediately convened into a closed session to discuss legal issues with granting the franchise.

“Our intent is primarily not to impact our current franchises. However there is a demonstrated need shown to us by Vidant Roanoke-Chowan Hospital,” said Commission chairman Bill Mitchell after gaveling the meeting back into open session.

Commissioner Howard Hunter III mentioned that the discussion centered on granting a “limited franchise.”

“The request coming from our Transportation Advisory Committee is for ALS non-emergency, paramedic-level only be granted to Gates County at this time,” said Hunter.

“To my understanding, this ALS non-emergency, paramedic-level only of medical transportation will meet the hospital’s need of having a third option for paramedic level transport,” said Commissioner Ronald Gatling.

“That’s because Vidant (R-C Hospital) said the need was not being currently met by the two paramedic level providers now operating with a franchise in Hertford County,” Hunter noted.

Currently, there are four entities with a franchise in the county that can provide non-emergency medical transport (which includes taking patients from Vidant RCH to other medical facilities). Only two of the four are paramedic level.

Commissioner Johnnie Ray Farmer said the hospital advises a franchised non-emergency medical transport company 30 minutes in advance of their services being needed.

“The hospital is saying that need is not being met 50 percent of the time; they showed a demonstrated need for another paramedic level transport company,” Farmer stated.

To help meet that need, the Commissioners voted 4-0 (Curtis Freeman was absent from the Dec. 15 meeting) to grant the ALS non-emergency, paramedic level transport franchise to Gates County EMS.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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