Monday, April 28, 2008

Can you find the common thread in these two articles?

Oglethorpe County, Georgia has been in the news twice this week. Here are the two articles:

Wait for ambulance cost man's life


Raffle to pay for new 'Jaws of Life'

While some may make this a paid vs. volunteer issue, it is deeper than that. It is called commitment at the the county level. The gold standard: What is in the best interest of the patient?

I am an old volunteer. Born and raised that way in Upstate, NY and hold that experience near and dear to my heart. I believe there are communities that can maintain volunteer systems. I believe in community-based providers/systems who provide quality, compassionate, patient-centered care. This is where EMS comes from.

Yet there are times when systems need help. James Matthews, Oglethorpe's EMS Director is quoted in saying

There simply isn't enough money to fix the problem, he said, and while the addition of a second 24-hour crew would help, Oglethorpe County's EMS service needs a major overhaul as the population continues to grow.

"We're still trying to work off the same budget we've had for the last two years," the EMS director said. "Problem is, there's still going to be more cases. There could be three trucks on and you'd still need a fourth one."

The Oglethorpe County Commission Chair, Robert Johnson said:

The county's land mass - the largest in Northeast Georgia - is working against EMS crews, said Robert Johnson, Oglethorpe County commission chairman.

"An ambulance could be anywhere in the county and it could still take it 20 minutes to get there," Johnson said.

Ambulance services, he said, are expensive, and with the rising costs of medical supplies and fuel, the situation in Oglethorpe County is not likely to get any better any time soon.

"We have an outstanding EMS service," Johnson said. "They do exceptionally well with what they have to work with."

I believe the individuals in the Oglethorpe Emergency Medical Services are outstanding. It appears there is no argument there. But for one woman who lost a husband "They do exceptionally well for what they have to work with." isn't enough--nor should it be.

The money the county pays her to settle the lawsuit should have been invested in EMS before this tragedy. And Oglethorpe County, while you are writing checks, buy your EMSers a new Jaws of Life.

No comments: