I personally don't see letting the FD do it as the best move.....the Fire Service on the EAST COAST tends to do EMS improperly or treat EMS as an unwanted division.
Med Center wants $4.5M a year for ambulances
Wednesday, July 13, 2005
By KEN THORBOURNE
JOURNAL STAFF WRITER
The asking price to provide ambulance service to the residents of Jersey City is sending city officials into shock.
Up until last year, the Jersey City Medical Center provided the service at no charge to the city. But now the medical institution is asking for $4.5 million a year to provide a slightly upgraded version of the same service, according to city officials.
"I was shocked," said Brian O'Reilly, the city's business administrator, about the requested fare hike. "If the bid isn't changed, (Jersey City Mayor Jerramiah Healy) is saying let the fire department carry it out."
Fire officials weren't reached for comment yesterday to respond to that proposal.
In previous years, the medical center had charged for ambulance service - as much as $1 million a year in the early 1990s, City Clerk Robert Byrne said. But in 1999, it signed a five-year agreement to provide the service for no cost. That agreement expired at the end of last year.
The medical center bills patients, usually through their insurance companies, for ambulance service. But some patients can't pay. And earlier this year, JCMC officials presented financial statements to the city showing the service is losing money, O'Reilly said.
After the five-year contract expired, the medical center continued providing the service at an undisclosed price while the city put the ambulance service contract out to bid, O'Reilly said.
Eight companies picked up information packets about the bid and five attended a five-hour question-and-answer session about the request-for-proposal, O'Reilly said, but when the deadline for submissions rolled around on June 28, the city received just a single proposal: JCMC's $4.5 million bid.
O'Reilly said he wasn't sure why JCMC is the only bidder, or why it was asking for so much money. But he said he was told by medical center officials that debt service for their new building on Grand Street is a factor.
Officials at LibertyHealth, the parent company of the medical center, declined to comment since JCMC is "involved in a competitive bid process."
City Council members plan to officially reject JCMC's bid at this morning's council meeting on the grounds that it "substantially exceeds the cost estimates for the goods and services" and put it out to bid again.
If the new bidding process doesn't result in much cheaper rates, Healy wants to explore the possibility of the fire department taking on emergency ambulance duties, O'Reilly said.
"The city doesn't want be in the (ambulance) business, but we might be forced to be," O'Reilly said.