Belleville – Hastings County officials are concerned looming changes at Quinte Health Care could have an impact on the cost of ambulance services and hit taxpayers in the wallet.
CAO Jim Pine told county council Thursday he and EMS director Doug Socha will meet with QHC representatives next week to discuss the implications to ambulance services that might result from changes at local hospitals.
Hastings-Quinte EMS, which provides ambulance service for all of Hastings and Prince Edward counties, responded to about 25,000 emergency medical services calls last year. The cost of providing the service is split 50-50 between the province and county municipalities (through property taxes).
“It’s a real concern and we need a better understanding of what the changes might mean,” Pine said. The county also wants QHC to know it is concerned about the issue.
Council approved a motion by Councillor Tom Deline, reeve of Centre Hastings, directing the county’s treasury department to write a report on the impact changes at QHC and the new long-term care facility being built in Tweed will have on EMS costs.
Deline acknowledged it might be difficult to come up with such a report when QHC has yet to decide on measures to reduce its deficit but he asked for an outline of low, medium and high risk financial factors.
(Tweed Reeve Jo-Anne Albert also drew attention the impact the long-term care facility could have on EMS service in the municipality at council’s meeting Tuesday.)
Deline said Tweed currently has only part-time ambulance service which the province should have been aware of when it made the decision to locate the facility there.
Councillor Carl Tinney, Farady Township reeve, also raised a question regarding ambulance service and where patients are taken. Council was told patients have no choice as to which hospital receives them and that sometimes it’s an issue of where there is a bed available.
Bancroft Mayor Lloyd Churchill cited two recent cases in that community. One patient was transported to Peterborough with a suspected stroke and was sent back to Bancroft while a second patient was taken to Brockville and later transferred to Belleville.
Pine said Hastings-Quinte EMS had to transfer a patient to Buffalo, N.Y. as recently as two months ago.
– Janet Richards