Lehigh Acres EMS Transport?
Should EMS patients be transported to nearest receiving hospital or be transported to the local hospital of their choice?
According to Chief John Wayne of the Lehigh Acres Fire District, “Approximately 45-50% of our patients request to be transported to “Ft. Myers” receiving facilities.”
Question should by why 45-50% of the LAFD patients request to be transported to “Ft. Myers” receiving facilities? Is this a perception issue for Lehigh Regional or Lehigh Acres Fire Department?
The Common Treatment Guideline of Lee County EMS is also followed by Lehigh Acres Fire Rescue and states: “Patients shall be transported to the local hospital of their choice. When their condition creates conflict with that choice, every effort should be made to convince/educate the patient/family of the need to transport to the most appropriate facility for treatment of their illness and or injury. If the patient is fully competent and refuses that direction, transport to the facility of their choice.”
“Patients shall be transported to the local hospital of their choice” is not based on any federal, state or local law; it is based on a protocol that the Lee County EMS Medical Director has signed off on.
Should the Common Treatment Guideline be changed to keep the majority of the EMS calls going to Lehigh Regional?
But according to one Lehigh Fire Commissioner Jackie Danis, “We only send bumps and bruises to Lehigh Regional.”
“Lehigh Regional Medical Center is a community hospital capable of handling most of our transport needs. There are specialty cases that are best served at specialty hospitals, such as those involving critical children, trauma or specific heart and stroke patients”, said Rob Farmer, Lee County Public Safety Director.
Maybe Lee County EMS has the answer — if Lehigh Regional Medical Center is capable of handling most of our transport needs, just maybe it’s a training opportunity for Lehigh Fire to support the local community and its community hospital.
From Joanie Jeannette the CEO Lehigh Regional Medical Center, “Lehigh Regional Medical Center serves the emergent needs of Lehigh Acres and surrounding communities through our full-service 24/7 emergency department. We are staffed by board certified physicians and registered nurses who are well trained to examine and treat patients in a timely manner. Patients are seen by a healthcare professional more quickly at Lehigh Regional than the state or national average.”
Lehigh Regional Medical Center emergency department is prepared to respond to a variety of medical emergencies. Approximately 38,000 patients seek care through our emergency department each year, making it one of the busiest in southwest Florida. For patients that require a higher level of care, once they are stabilized, they can be transported quickly via ambulance or helicopter to another provider.
According to Jeannette, there are several factors considered when a patient is transported to an emergency department, including proximity, condition and patient choice. We regularly work to notify local EMS as we advance our capabilities.
Since the Lehigh Fire department spends more money and time out outside their district should they charge an out of district user fee and / or a non-resident user fee to offset the price paid by its residents?
A Florida appellate court has already uphold ambulance billing fees for non-residents (click here) and the fire department can charge user fees under Florida statue 191.009(3)(a) “The board may provide a reasonable schedule of charges for special emergency services, including firefighting occurring in or to structures outside the district, motor vehicles, marine vessels, aircraft, or rail cars, or as a result of the operation of such motor vehicles or marine vessels, to which the district is called to render such emergency service, and may charge a fee for the services rendered in accordance with the schedule.”
These suggestions of new user fees have never been talked about at a public fire board meeting but could be user to help save the department keep jobs.