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Memphis Ambulance Firm Carves Niche with Direct Service

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- An ambulance company called Emergency Mobile Health Care LLC has found a niche in the Memphis medical market by providing direct service to hospitals, nursing homes and other facilities.

The company, called EMHC, doesn t respond to 911 calls. Rather, it contracts with health care organizations to transport patients from one institution to another or to deliver them back to their homes.

The firm s vice president and part-owner, Don Parsons, said his path toward the ambulance field began March 15, 1986, when he was severely injured in Tunica in an automobile accident caused by a drunken driver. He said he was airlifted to Memphis, where he spent about 90 days in the Regional Medical Center at Memphis. The experience changed his life and drew him to a career as a paramedic, he said.

Parsons, 45, founded the ambulance company with CEO Michael Arndt in February 1997.

We started out with one ambulance and a cell phone. I spent many nights at Saint Francis in the (emergency room) to kick this thing off, he said.

Now the service has 10 licensed ambulances and has ordered six more. It has a full staff of dispatchers, emergency medical technicians and paramedics, and handles 1,800 runs per month, ranging from routine transport to emergencies, he said.

The company earns most of its money from Medicare, the federal insurance program for the elderly. In non-emergency cases, Medicare compensates ambulances at $142.58 per run, plus $5 per mile, Parsons said. He said Wednesday that he didn t know the private firm s annual revenue.

There are several other ambulance companies in Memphis, and Parsons says EMHC tries to set itself apart by offering a high quality of care and establishing strong relationships with customers.

Parsons said EMHC has a contract with Saint Jude Children s Research Hospital and has transported children to destinations far outside the Memphis area.

One of the company s core clients is Saint Francis Healthcare. Chuck Baker, a registered nurse at Saint Francis, says the ambulance service helps keep sick patients flowing through the emergency room quickly by taking sick patients back to nursing homes or other facilities after they have been examined.

He also said EMHC played a major role in evacuating patients from Slidell, La. after Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005. Baker said the company s employees show unbelievable integrity and caring for patients. They also keep smaller touches.

Nurses love them because they bring Halloween candy and come through, he said. They keep a good relationship with the hospital.

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