Survey suggests state residents back changes to ambulance rules
New Poll Shows Support for Reforming Ambulance Services
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WTVQ/KHA) – A new poll released Thursday by the Kentucky Hospital Association shows Kentuckians offering broad support for reforming the way the state approves new ambulance service providers. This comes in the wake of increasing reports of lengthy wait times to transfer patients from smaller rural hospitals and clinics to larger hospitals with specialty services when acute or specialized care is needed, putting patient well-being at risk.
The issue was the subject of several interim legislative committee meetings during the summer and fall.
“Patient care is suffering because there simply isn’t the capacity to handle the transfer of patients along with 911 and other services traditionally provided by ambulance operators,” said KHA President Nancy Galvagni. “The need for a change is clear and this poll shows Kentuckians support it.”
Under current law, a new ambulance service must obtain a certificate of need, which requires them to prove to a state regulatory board that current providers are unable to keep up with demand. The board that approves these applications is controlled by existing ambulance service providers and historically has been slow or unwilling to authorize new providers. The result has been long wait times for transfers and, in some extreme cases, situations where no transfers are available at all, resulting in poor patient outcomes.
According to the poll, 81% of Kentuckians support making it easier for more ambulance service providers to open for business in State. This would ease the wait times for all ambulance services, both routine, such as patient transfers from hospital-to-hospital or hospital-to-rehab facility as well as emergency services such as 911 calls. The poll also shows 83% support allowing hospitals to operate their own ambulance services, which could handle transfers without putting the burden on independent providers and affecting 911 response times.
“At the end of the day, ambulance providers, EMS staff, doctors and hospitals are members of the same patient care team. When one member of the team is overwhelmed, patients’ lives are at risk, so the rest of the team needs to have the opportunity to help” said Galvagni. “These reforms are ‘patient first’ policies.”
KHA was established in 1929. The Association represents hospitals, related health care organizations and integrated health care systems dedicated to sustaining and improving the health status of the citizens of Kentucky. The Association is headquartered in Louisville.