EMS, hospital association at odds over hospital transport delays

Posted at 7:17 PM, Jan 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-19 19:17:10-05

FRANKLIN COUNTY, Ky. (LEX 18) — A bill introduced in the state legislature has EMS workers across Kentucky speaking out.

House bill 296 calls for major changes including a maximum response time of 60 minutes for hospital patient transfers and a transfer of regulatory power.

The bill calls for regulation to be returned from the Kentucky Board of Emergency Medical Services (KBEMS) to the office of the Inspector General.

It would also create an advisory committee to study the response times of ambulances and other medical transportation.

Dr. Walt Lubbers, EMS provider and state medical advisor, says the emergency medical services community is outraged about the proposed changes.

"It's gonna make things worse. It's going to move medical direction from physicians and put it in the hands of a government bureaucrat. It's gonna put a lot of impositions on the EMS worker who's already got a pretty tough job to start off with," said Lubbers.

Lubbers says they're also concerned about how many trained EMS professionals would be on the committee.

On the other hand, the Kentucky Hospital Association says it would be a welcomed change.

President Nancy Galvagni says the average wait time for a patient transport is 7-8 hours.

"We're talking about heart attack, stroke victims that need to get to a tertiary Medical Center because they need maybe immediate intervention. We're talking sometimes gunshot victims. These are patients that need to be transported in a timely manner," said Galvangi.

She believes the proposed changes would speed up the wait and says opposition to the bill goes against their mission to put patients first.

"No one's expecting that every time we call and saying type of patient that that means to go to Lexington for example, from a rural area. We understand that ambulances can't always do that. But today under the current structure, a hospital is not allowed to call another ambulance provider unless the local ambulance provider gives them the permission," said Galvangi.

Lubbers argued the opposite and said wait times for people outside of the hospital would only increase.

"The irony is that this bill doesn't actually change any of that. There's nothing in it that addresses how you would get more ambulances or how you would transfer people more," Lubbers said.

He also believes it will make the lives of EMS workers more difficult.

"It's going to make it harder for them to do their job and to care for patients in a way that you need to," said Lubbers.

Republican Representative Ken Flemming is sponsoring the bill.

He says nothing is set in stone yet and the bill was introduced to start the conversation.

Flemming says a meeting is set for Friday to talk to both stakeholders about how to solve patient transport issues.

On behalf of Kentucky Board of Emergency Medical Services Executive Director Michael Poynter:

“The Kentucky Board of Emergency Medical Services has concerns that a passage of House Bill 296 as it is will set Kentucky EMS back decades. We have made, and continue to make, huge improvements to EMS. We realize there’s still progress to be made, but for us to keep moving forward we must all be willing to work together. We want and are ready to do just that. It’s important to collaborate and make sure a variety of EMS experts and stakeholder voices are heard so we can continue to figure out EMS solutions together, not create more challenges”