Plainfield contracts with Edison hospital for rescue squad service

PLAINFIELD – Hackensack Meridian Health JFK University Medical Center in Edison will start providing ambulance service in the city on June 1.

City Council members on Monday unanimously authorized the $350,000 contract for each of the next three years with the option to renew for the two years after, one year at a time. JFK was the only responder to the city’s request for bids.

Councilman Sean McKenna voted in favor of the plan but expressed concern about the additional expense to residents over time, while other council members praised the plan which will offer faster response times for cardiac emergencies.

Under the contract, service will be provided every day around the clock, including holidays, and maintain at least one ambulance in the city at all times. When one ambulance is dispatched to a call, another ambulance will be immediately dispatched and located within the city so that there are two ambulances ready to respond to emergency medical service calls. Response times must be within 10 minutes for at least 90 percent of the calls, according to the resolution.

Patients will be transported to hospitals or health care facilities as may be requested by the patient or on their behalf. Whenever possible, patient preference will be honored regarding transport destination decisions, but when a patient is deemed to be in critical condition, they will be transported to the closest appropriate medical facility, according to the contract.

Under the plan, JFK will be reimbursed for emergency medical services from patients through their insurance, Medicare and Medicaid coverage. The hospital also will be responsible for billing patients, insurance, Medicare and Medicaid directly for the services provided.

The city will provide a centrally located area, equipped with a restroom and office area with access to a phone, internet and electricity, to house the ambulance and crew.

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Business Administrator Abby Levenson said the contract with JFK, the city's largest mutual aid provider, as well as resolution allowing the city to apply for a state grant to fund a shared service agreement with Union County to provide an ambulance in the city 24 hours a day, seven days a week, helps resolve the city's situation resulting from last fall's sudden shutdown of the Plainfield Rescue Squad.

Reliable ambulance service has been a long-term problem for Plainfield. The city had previously arranged for the county to donate an ambulance to the rescue squad but there have been complaints about people waiting as long as 25 minutes for service.

Councilman Richard Wyatt questioned if measures are in place when there are two or more emergencies in the city at the same time.

Levenson said mutual aid will still be needed. She said there is nothing in the new contract or the grant that prevents any of the mutual aid providers that are currently used to still continue that service, including JFK which remains committed to providing the same level of mutual aid they provide now.

Wyatt also questioned if the city had explored combining emergency medical service with the city's fire department. Levenson said that was the first option the city researched, but it was cost prohibitive.


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This article originally appeared on Plainfield contracts with Hackensack Meridian for rescue squad service