LACONIA — The City Council this week approved a two-year contract between the city and LRGHealthcare to continue the partnership begun in 1997 that City Manager Scott Myers said enables the Fire Department to operate "the best emergency medical service delivery system in the state."
Under the agreement LRGH bears a significant portion of the costs of operating the ambulance service in return for keeping all of the revenue generated. Covered expenses include the salary and benefits of the deputy chief of Emergency Medical Services and four senior firefighter/paramedics as well as $127,000 per year, which represents about half the cost of the four most junior firefighters. In addition, LRGH funds up to 1,000 hours of overtime, based on the average rate of senior emergency medical technicians (EMT)-paramedics to ensure sufficient personnel for special events, like Motorcycle Week, and periods of peak demand.
LRGH also pays for the ambulances, along with the equipment, medications and supplies they carry., the fuel they burn and the maintenance they require. There are currently four ambulances in the fleet, the oldest purchased in 1997 and the newest in 2012 at a cost of $252,000. Recently purchases of three hydraulic lift stretchers, one hydraulic tail gate lift, three cardiac compression devices,three EKG monitors and three medical pumps totaled some $175,000
Noting that the contract does not include the purchase of an ambulance, Myers explained that ambulances are replaced on a five-year cycle and since the last was acquired in 2012, the next would be bought in 2017, the year the agreement expires.
For its part, LRGH sets the rates, bills the fees for ambulance service and keeps the proceeds. In 2014, LRGH paid the city $813,549 in direct costs for the ambulance service. At the same time, LRGH billed $1,154,228 for these services, but, collected just $612,646 and spent $167,551 doing so. In other words, Myers said that LRGH effectively contributed $368,454 to the city.
In 2014, there were 2,646 calls for emergency medical services, representing two of every three calls for service to which the Fire Department responded, and 213 occasions when three ambulances were deployed simultaneously and 510 times when two ambulances were deployed simultaneously. Altogether 1,841 patients were transported, of whom 1,402 received advanced life support measures.
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