Rescue Association asked to explain patient transport policy

January 24, 2001

Rescue Association asked to explain patient transport policy

By SCOTT BUTKI / Staff Writer

Washington County wants the Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association to explain its policy on "nonemergency transports."

The issue is whether it's safe and wise for some ambulance companies to make money by providing nonemergency transports - carrying patients from Washington County to Baltimore and Washington, D.C.-area hospitals.

"At this point it's a fact-finding mission with the association," Commissioner Bert L. Iseminger said Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Washington County Commissioner's President Gregory I. Snook told the other commissioners that he and Iseminger will send a letter to the association.

The letter will ask if the association has a policy regarding such transports, Iseminger said.

It will also ask how prevalent such trips are and whether it is affecting the level of service for citizens, Iseminger said.


The letter has not yet been written, County Administrator Rodney Shoop said Wednesday.

Halfway and Clear Spring ambulance companies provide the transports.

The comments came after a representative of the for-profit County Medical Transport expressed concern to the commissioners that it is losing money to ambulance companies. As with the companies, County Medical Transport is paid for nonemergency transports.

How much the business it is losing to the companies is unknown since it's unclear how prevalent the trips are, said Jim Stone, an attorney who spoke for the company.

It seems unfair a business is forced to compete with groups receiving government subsidies, he said.

The idea of sending the association a letter is a good one, Stone said.

"I think that's an excellent step," he said.

It's not yet clear what the impact will be of the creation of Mid-Maryland Medical Transport.

The for-profit arm of the Washington County Health System will be part owner of the ambulance company to be launched in March.

The company will provide nonemergency transports, primarily serving patients in Washington and Frederick counties in Maryland.

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