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Pa. townships oppose advanced life service plan run by borough

August 29, 2002|by STACEY DANZUSO

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - Neighboring townships are opposed to the Borough of Chambersburg dropping out of a regional contract and establishing its own advanced life support ambulance service.

During an Emergency Services Committee meeting Wednesday, township representatives said they wanted to end any speculation about whether they supported the borough, which is considering establishing its own ambulance service for critical patients.

Representatives from Greene, Hamilton, Guilford and Letterkenny townships said they wanted to move ahead and sign a three-year contract with the borough and West Shore, which has provided advanced life support to the region for the last three years.

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"The contract we're going to negotiate with West Shore is going to be a better contact," said Dave Jamison, Greene Township supervisor. "I am not going to recommend to my board we support another ALS service. Why reinvent the wheel?"

Franklin County Commissioner Bob Thomas said his main concern was who would provide service to outlying areas like Metal, Peters and Lurgan townships.

"I think it is important, if there is a change, those areas would have to be served," he said.

Larry Roberts, executive director of West Shore, said the company would not necessarily stick around to serve the townships if the borough pulls out.

"If the borough forms its own ALS service, West Shore would have to look at the financial capability of staying in the area," he said.

The borough has complained about West Shore's performance on several occasions.

A consultant has told the borough it could establish its own ALS service in six to 12 months at a cost of $10,000 if neighboring townships were on board. Without their support, costs could climb above $100,000.

The township representatives at the meeting pressed the borough to make its decision so the negotiations for a new contract with West Shore could move forward.

"I think we need to stay together as a unified group," said Randy Negley, Hamilton Township supervisor. "I do think now we have something that works."

David Finch, assistant borough manager, said the council might not make a decision before the end of the year, which is why it would like to sign a 1-year contract and have a 12-month pull-out provision.

The townships, however, prefer a three-year contract.

"The 12-month pull-out gives you the right to do your thing. We still want our three years," Negley said. "I'm committed right now to a regional system."

All parties agreed that any new contract should include language asking for more accountability from West Shore and for any incidents and the corresponding discipline to be reported to the committee.

"I don't care how small it is. We have to get some controls in this contract," Jamison said.

A final sticking point for the borough is West Shore's decision to directly bill Medicare patients because the Medicare reimbursements will be cut by 69 percent in the next five years.

Finch said he was concerned about the elderly residents that would be slapped with ALS bills of $600 or more.

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