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KershawHealth announces new EMS plan

Posted: August 19, 2014 4:38 p.m.
Updated: August 20, 2014 5:00 a.m.
C-I file photo/

KershawHealth will change the way it offers emergency medical services (EMS) by the end of the month. Several EMS stations will move; others will expand. In addition, KershawHealth’s ambulances will no longer answer calls for “non-emergent” patients, allowing that service to be picked up by the private sector.

Non-emergent patients are those whose needs are not emergencies. Examples of such traffic includes transferring a nursing home patient to a facility for dialysis treatment, or transporting a patient between hospitals when no emergency is involved.

KershawHealth’s decisions on emergency services come after a six-month evaluation of how the healthcare organization deploys its ambulances. It said the new plan will “more effectively and efficiently provide these vital services to the citizens of Kershaw County,” according to a press release issued Monday.

The analysis and resulting plan were developed in conjunction with the EMS Performance Center at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, a “well-recognized resource” for optimizing EMS programs, the press release said.

KershawHealth’s evaluation included analysis of responses to 911 calls based on a wide range of factors: location of calls, population density, time of day, type of call, volume of calls, station locations, and response times.

“The analysis provided the data necessary to make well-informed decisions about the best way to provide this service. For example, the data showed that nearly 65 percent of EMS volume occurs between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m.,” said KershawHealth Director of Emergency Services Danny Wharton. “The data also highlighted some EMS station locations are currently too close to the Chesterfield and Richland county lines, rather than being more centrally located within Kershaw County.”

A critical element of the new plan is adjustments to Advanced Life Support (ALS) unit locations in order to maximize 12-minute response time, the national best-practice standard. The new configuration includes the following:

• The 24-hour ALS unit currently located at the KershawHealth Medical Center will be moved to a facility at the Kershaw County Airport for immediate access to U.S. 1, both north and south.

• The 24-hour ALS unit and facility in Lugoff will be moved to the fire station at Whitehead Road, near the Kershaw County Recreation Department West Complex.

• The 24-hour ALS unit and facility in Bethune will be moved to a new facility at the North Central/Westville Fire Station on the corner of Lockhart Road and Keys Lane to be more centrally located between Bethune and Mt. Pisgah.

• The 24-hour Elgin unit and facility will transition to a peak demand 12-hour roaming ALS unit.

• The Lake Wateree ALS unit service will be expanded to 7 days a week, 12 hours per day.

• The U.S. 521 ALS unit and facility will remain the same.

“Not only does this new plan make EMS more responsive to the needs of Kershaw County, it will do so in a much more efficient way. We estimate savings of approximately $320,000 annually, which helps us get closer to eliminating the nearly $900,000 deficit we incur each year to fund EMS,” interim KershawHealth CEO Terry Gunn said.

The transfer of non-emergency medical transport services to the private sector is another critical part of the plan, he said. Approximately 17 percent of KershawHealth EMS volume has been non-emergent.

“Very importantly, this deployment plan enables us to focus on the core EMS mission of responding to 911 calls. That single-minded focus will ultimately result in even greater patient safety,” Gunn said.

Joseph Bruce, KershawHealth’s vice president for marketing and community development said that non-emergent patients have a choice of “any number of providers” in Kershaw County.

“KershawHealth has an ongoing relationship with Lifeline to cover instances when the patient has no preference,” Bruce said, as an example.


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