Monroe addresses concerns about where ambulances can take patients

People transported by Monroe Fire Department medic units have a choice for which medical facility they prefer, depending on the situation.

Monroe City Council’s Public Safety Commission discussed the matter prior to Tuesday’s council meeting after concerns were communicated to Councilman Todd Hickman. Hickman said he was concerned that people were not being transported to their preferred medical facility.

“I don’t want to be forced to go to a hospital I don’t want to use,” Hickman said.

Fire Chief John Centers said paramedics and medics go on thousands of EMS transports each year. He said he was aware of one incident in which a patient raised an issue about where that person was transported.

“If a patient is conscious, alert, and stable, we can and do transport them to the facility of their choosing to include Christ Hospital, West Chester Hospital, Kettering Medical Center and Atrium Medical Center,” Centers said. “If they are critical, we advise them of the capabilities of the area hospitals.”

He said if the medic unit is “significantly closer to one facility than another, we would make the case for the closest facility, and/or contact Medical Control for diversion assistance.”

“If a patient is unconscious/unresponsive, we would transport to the ‘closest’ appropriate medical facility,” Centers said.

He said if there is no request or preference, the patient would likely be transported to Atrium Medical Center, as it’s the closest facility.

Of the 1,110 Monroe EMS transports this year as of Tuesday, more than half, 690 transports were to Atrium. West Chester Hospital received 312 Monroe transports, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital’s Liberty Campus received 45, Kettering Health Network Middletown received 44 transports and Christ Hospital Liberty Twp. has received 19 transports.

Centers said the EMS Sign Post system, in which EMS personnel can quickly review information entered by patients, would be the best option for residents to enter that hospital preference or other information. He said that will be added to the fire department’s website soon but questions can be asked of Community Paramedic Aaron Vance at 513-539-8380.

The city has been using the EMS Sign Post program for the past two years as part of its community paramedic program, Centers said.

“As long as everyone has a choice,” Hickman said.

Hickman also pointed out that many smart phones have a way for first responders to check medical and emergency contact information of a patient as well as noting their hospital preferences.

Vice Mayor Dan Clark said he wasn’t aware of that smart phone function after Hickman showed it on his phone.

“I like this for people,” Clark said. “They just need to be educated.”

Centers said the EMS units do what is in the best interests of the patients.

“The populace is not aware of the options available for transport,” he said. “But sometimes extenuating circumstances affect a transport to a specific medical facility based on the patient’s medical condition.”

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