Costa Mesa Should Begin Hospital Ambulance Transport

Originally published on April 11, 2016 click here for article.

By Robin Leffler

Recently, the Costa Mesa City Council had the opportunity to improve the city’s paramedic ambulance service and the financial health of the city all in one vote.

Instead, the council voted 3-2 to continue the current inefficient and costly system.

Since the Jan. 19 vote, the issue has remained a topic of community concern.

Remember three years ago when the council voted 5-0 to spend $1.6 million for new state-of-the-art ambulances?

They are still underutilized. Costa Mesa Fire Department paramedics respond to medical calls in the new city-owned ambulances.

Concurrently, an ambulance owned by CARE Ambulance Service is also dispatched, but CARE has no paramedics. If the patient requires hospital transport they are loaded into the CARE ambulance and, if the situation requires paramedic attention, a CMFD paramedic must board the CARE ambulance. Then, the CMFD ambulance follows CARE to the hospital so they can pick up the CMFD paramedic to return to the fire station.

This makes no sense. Why use state-of-the-art ambulances for taxi service? Why isn’t the city using its own modern, fully equipped ambulances for patient transport?

After all, we paid for them.

In addition, CARE has higher employee turnover than the CMFD. Our personnel have minimal turnover and train continuously. As a result, they work together seamlessly. There is a high degree of dedication among CMFD personnel who take pride in serving Costa Mesa.

If you’re in the back of an ambulance you want an experienced, well-coordinated team taking care of you.

Aside from using an inefficient system, the city is needlessly losing out on potential revenue. Transport is not free; CARE profits handsomely from it.

CARE is a subsidiary of the Danish conglomerate Falck. It makes more sense to direct this revenue stream to Costa Mesa for the support of our own equipment and personnel.

During the Jan. 19 meeting, the City Council reviewed an independent study conducted by experts in the field. They presented four options that clearly showed if the CMFD provides all hospital transport the city could receive up to $4 million in cost recovery.

If they chose a hybrid model with the city providing advanced life support, and the private contractor providing less-critical transport, the city would receive $2 million to $2.5 million in cost recovery.

Either is more efficient than the status quo model.

We are still hoping that Costa Mesa City Council will reconsider and choose the option that provides the best care for the residents with the most revenue to the city. Costa Mesa should implement full CMFD hospital transport.

When it does, Costa Mesa will have the most-dedicated and competent paramedics caring for the community in our own taxpayer-purchased ambulances. This will greatly improve the efficiency of the current emergency medical delivery system — and it will pay for itself.

ROBIN LEFFLER is president of Costa Mesans for Responsible Government.

3 thoughts on “Costa Mesa Should Begin Hospital Ambulance Transport

  1. Virginia Vargas

    Robin, are we stuck in a contract agreement with CARE ambulance? How and why do they come out if our CMFD ambulances are more than capable of doing the job adequately? Thank you for your post on this subject.

    1. robin leffler

      Virginia, I don’t know if we are “locked in”. I’ll try to find out, or if there are plans to re-up their contact. At the time of the hearing we weren’t.
      You asked the perfect question: ”How and why do they come out if our CMFD ambulances are more than capable of doing the job adequately? “. They are, so why indeed?

      1. nancy perkins

        I posted a reply on Next Door that said exactly what I am reading here which I hadn’t read before. I have done transports with Care Ambulance I know about the turn over I know they only have basic skills like taking a blood pressure or pushing a gurney. and that I wouldn’t or want any member of my family to be alone with care employees in the back of an ambulance Now I wish I had the name but it was somebody with the city called me out for being woefully uninformed when I stood up for Costa Mesa Fire Paramedics. “they were just money hungry and were going to ruin the city with their retirement demands. I just said get the money somewhere else. These men who risk their lives doing a job that you are not capable of doing nor do you have the calling to do. They are still on the tract for Care paramedics who are fresh out of school with no experience and actually are just waiting to get hired by a fire department, Why give up years of experience to save a buck and loose lives. “all that came out was they didn’t need Pers employees!!!!! really I hope the people of Costa Mesa are realizing what may be happening to their emergency care.
        One name I do remember Is Julie Fowler (I have no idea who she is but would like to know she seems to be an expert in all area of the pro council city.

Comments are closed.