CRS offered hospital affiliation

January 17, 2002

CRS offered hospital affiliation


The parent company of Washington County Hospital is offering to make Community Rescue Service a hospital affiliate, which would give the ambulance company the chance to save money on supplies, and put the hospital in charge of CRS' billing, public relations, and marketing, a hospital administrator who is also a CRS volunteer said Wednesday.

CRS could save 20 percent on all purchases, from ambulances to bandages, if it became a hospital affiliate, said Barry Nickelsberg, executive director of Development, Community Relations and Marketing for the Washington County Health System.

The hospital belongs to a "buying club" for hospitals. Nickelsberg said he did not know how much CRS spends on supplies.


Nickelsberg, who has been a volunteer paramedic at CRS for about 14 months, said he presented the hospital's offer to the CRS board of directors Wednesday night.

Ron Horn, president of the CRS board of directors, said the board was considering the offer.

As Nickelsberg met with the board, about 45 CRS paid and volunteer staffers gathered in CRS headquarters to protest expected layoffs, call for CRS Executive Director J. Michael Nye's resignation, and ask that an outside company handle CRS' patient billing.

Nye was meeting with the board to discuss $200,000 in personnel cuts that would help the financially troubled ambulance company balance its budget.

CRS serves about 30,000 homes in most of Hagerstown and parts of the surrounding area.

Nickelsberg said the Health System's offer would improve CRS' financial picture.

Nickelsberg said he's tried on three separate occasions to speak with the CRS board about becoming a hospital affiliate, but Nye had delayed any meeting, until Wednesday.

Horn said it was an executive committee's decision not to meet with hospital representatives.

The board met with Nickelsberg for five minutes Wednesday, cutting him off during his presentation, he said.

"They didn't get to ask any questions. I didn't get to ask any questions," Nickelsberg said.

A reporter was not allowed to attend the meeting in the CRS board room and Nye said that was because CRS is a private organization.

The hospital offered to take over billing and bill collection for CRS, and charge 6 percent for the service, Nickelsberg said.

He said CRS currently does not go after unpaid bills.

"If you don't pay the bill there's no call, they don't ask," Nickelsberg said. "At the hospital we serve the same population and they pay us. If you don't ask them they won't pay."

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