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County forced to pay back province for dispatch funding

 


Essex County Civic Centre

Ways in which to financially secure funding and methodology to keep more of its ambulances on the road and not back logged at hospital emergency departments continues to be a very big issue for the County of Essex.


At last week’s regular county council meeting, director of financial services/treasurer Melissa Ryan responded to a request to provide a cost comparison when it comes to down-loading of patients.


According to Ryan, the cost to have two paramedics waiting at the hospital with a patient is $143 dollars per hour as compared to having a registered nurse doing it at $85 per hour. Those figures, as indicated, do not include operational expenses.


“Those numbers need to be shared somewhere. Keeping them internally will not be enough to support our EMS partners,” said LaSalle Deputy Mayor Michael Akpata. “There are millions of dollars in savings,” he added.


The information came on the heels of a report by Essex-Windsor EMS Chief Justin Lammers who had some bad financial news for council.


Lammers said that the county will have to pay back its portion (the other half comes from the City of Windsor) of $268,521 to the Ministry of Health. He said that on Jan. 19, the EMS received notification from the province that its funding for the Designated Off-load Nurse Program was not being approved due to a “misalignment with the terms of the memorandum of agreement.”


“Unfortunately, as you’ve read, we’ve been advised by the Ministry of Health that the funding envelope we’ve been using is not allowed to be used and in fact we owe that money back,” said Lammers.


In an attempt to prevent Code Blacks in the region, which is when there are no ambulances available to respond, the Windsor-Essex EMS have been utilizing the Paramedic Patient Navigator which is funded through the province at $1.2 million per year. Because of this, Lammers said they have two district chiefs at the dispatch centre.


“This is a unique position that not many communications centres in the province have,” he said.


The EMS Chief told county council that this makes real-time decisions to avoid piling up of ambulances at the three hospital emergency departments.


He reported that in January there were 174 minutes of Code Black, zero in February and just three minutes last month.


“We are turning in the right direction but it’s too early to say we are out of the woods.”


Akpata asked the EMS Chief what could be said to the Minister of Health to help the communication and dispatch situations in Windsor-Essex.


Lammers responded by saying have an integrated dispatch system to improve efficiency. County forced to pay back province for dispatch funding

By Fred Groves

 

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