Wisconsin City Council Turns Over EMS to Hospital

PLATTEVILLE, Wis. – Southwest Health Center will succeed the City of Platteville in providing ambulance service in the city.

On a 5-2 vote Tuesday night, the Platteville Common Council approved a 20-year agreement that transfers control of Platteville EMS, which serves the city and all or portions of seven townships, to the hospital. The change takes effect after approval of the operational plan by the state EMS office, issuing of a license by the state EMS office, and Southwest Health receiving the Medicare and Medicaid approval – all are required according to Dan Rohr, Southwest Health president and Chief Executive Officer. He added that will most likely take place later this summer or early this fall.

Officials of the townships affected – Platteville and portions of Elk Grove, Belmont, Smelser, Ellenboro, Harrison and Lima – will decide on the agreement separately. A local government not choosing to have Southwest Health Center provide ambulance service would have to make other arrangements.

City of Platteville leaders approached Southwest Health Center officials last year to discuss the hospital providing emergency medical services in place of Platteville EMS.

Common Council President Eileen Nickels said the increasing expenses, looming capital projects and a jump in emergency calls – up 12 percent over the previous year – were key reasons city officials initiated the discussions.

The operation needs a new ambulance garage, which carries a $1.5 million price tag. Southwest Health plans to build the garage on its campus by the end of 2016, according to Rohr.

Platteville EMS has 26 staff members, including a full-time administrator, Brian Allen, and a part-time assistant administrator. The remaining 24 staff are paid on-call. They will have the opportunity to apply for positions with Southwest Health

Under the agreement, the city and townships would not pay the hospital this year, but collectively they would pay $100,000 in 2016 and 75 percent of unreimbursed costs, up to $150,000, in 2017.

From 2018 through 2024, the annual support fee is fixed at 75 percent of unreimbursed cost, with a minimum of $130,000 per year and a maximum of $150,000.

For 2025 through 2034, the annual support fee is the same as in 2018 through 2024, except the amount might be increased based on the Consumer Price Index.

Allen said that there will be a transition period between the two ambulance operations.

Under the agreement, Southwest Health will provide paramedic-level personnel, and that upgrade will take time, Allen added.

Three people spoke against the agreement Tuesday and one person for. Discussion consumed about 55 minutes before the vote. About 25 people on Thursday attended an informational meeting about the contract with Southwest Health.

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