In plan, Janesville Fire Department would transport patients for Mercy

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Marcia Nelesen
Friday, June 21, 2013

— The Janesville Fire Department wants to increase revenue by transporting patients from Mercy Emergency North at 3400 Deerfield Drive to the hospital’s main campus at 1000 Mineral Point Ave.

Using Mercy’s projections for service requests, estimated revenue is $80,000 to $150,000 per year.

Expenses would be the cost of operating the ambulances. Round trip mileage from fire station No. 4 or fire station No. 5 is about 11 miles.

The hospital now contracts with private ambulance providers, and there are times when they are not able to deliver the level of service Mercy wants, Fire Chief Jim Jensen said.

A public hearing on the proposal is scheduled before the Janesville City Council at 7 p.m. Monday in City Hall, 18 N. Jackson St.

Acting City Manager Jay Winzenz said in a memo to the council that he appreciates the fire department looking for new sources of revenue, and he recommended the council OK the policy change.

Concerns, though, include the potential for delayed response if an ambulance is tied up transporting Mercy patients when another call is received.

“However, our engines are staffed with EMTs and can begin treatment until paramedics arrive,” Winzenz said.

Winzenz also acknowledged private ambulance owners might feel the city is competing against them. The city will maintain the same staffing and equipment levels, regardless of the extra service provided, Winzenz said.

“Therefore, it makes sense to maximize the use of our resources and revenue potential,” he said.

“Mercy officials believe that it would be beneficial to patient care and to their operations to be able to utilize our services on an occasional basis,” a city memo reads.

“If the fire department did not have sufficient available resources due to other ongoing emergency calls, Mercy could use an alternate ambulance service, and the fire department would not be obligated to do the transport,” Jensen said.

The “transport only” service fee of $250 would be less than the “full service” fee of $530 because patients already would be stabilized.

Only transports between the Mercy Emergency North facility and the hospital are being discussed, Jensen said.

“Other opportunities will be considered as they become available,” he said.

Jensen said he doesn’t consider the service competing with private business.

“I think we’re providing a service to a business that I think will help them,” he said.

“Ultimately, it’s going to help patient care, which is what we want to do—give them the care they need and possibly more expediently.”

Last updated: 7:50 am Monday, July 29, 2013

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