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Ky. Safety Agencies Back Hospital Move

OWENSBORO, Ky. -- Public safety officials say when Owensboro Medical Health System moves to the eastern part of the county, it shouldn't really affect their response times or services.

Rather, some at the Owensboro Police Department think the move could actually increase the number of officers available to respond to calls at the hospital, while the fire department may build an additional fire station.

OPD Deputy Chief David Thompson said he foresees more police units becoming available for emergency calls made to the hospital and in the eastern end of the city as officers making transports to and from the Daviess County Detention Center will already be in the area.

With the added driving distance to the hospital from the police department on East Ninth Street, some have been concerned with the driving time for the many calls police make to the hospital.

But Officer Andy Rush said the hospital's move to a bigger facility across town is much like the Daviess County Detention Center's 2001 move from downtown to U.S. 60 East. At that time, officers were concerned with driving farther to take inmates to the jail, but Rush said the move hasn't had an effect on officers after all.

In addition to the more than 400 service-related calls officers made to OMHS in 2007, police take individuals in for DUI-related blood testing, injuries incurred during altercations and other health problems when arrests are made.

But Rush said as with the jail's move, the officers will get used to the added distance of the hospital over time.

"Even though it feels like it's farther out, it's not far off at all," Rush said.

Jailer David Osborne said the hospital's move closer to the jail shouldn't change the response times for inmate emergencies, as the prisoners are generally transported by ambulance.

But the jailer said the closeness will convenience officers who are required to transport their arrestees to the hospital if there is a medical condition that can be addressed prior to an inmate being accepted for incarceration.

For Owensboro firefighters, the new hospital may mean a sixth fire station.

Owensboro Fire Department Chief Ronnie Heep said the 2007 audit of the fire department will determine if the department, which currently meets its ISO requirements for insurance ratings, will need more manpower and equipment at a location closer to the new hospital on Daniels Lane.

Heep said the audit's findings are expected to be revealed early next year, but it's possible station No. 2 on East Parrish Avenue will be able to respond to the location without a problem. He did say, however, that the new hospital site would probably add about two minutes to the average three-minute response the current site receives.

"I have to say on a positive note that the hospital is already very good about keeping up with and maintaining fire safety equipment," Heep said, adding that the current location has retrofitted its alarm system in the last two years.

Heep said newer buildings require that the newest fire codes be met, which essentially reduces the risk of fire even more.

"The hospital seems very committed to fire protection by the things that have been done in the current hospital," Heep said. "We expect they will have that same level of commitment in the new building."

This article is part of a Messenger-Inquirer series on Owensboro Medical Health System's new hospital.

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