Thursday, February 19, 2009

RESCUE SQUAD & CITY HEALTH C ARE

I am digressing from reviewing the Council meeting due to the content of Plainfield Today, Plainfield Plaintalker's report on Jenny Pernell's appearance before the Council and Assemblyman Green's post today about "The Plainfield Rescue Squad Issue: Muhlenberg Recap."

Ms. Pernell recounted the physical as well as the financial problem the Squad is having in servicing Plainfield. She noted that the Rescue Squad has only one operational ambulance and five months after MRMC was closed Solaris has not lived up to its agreement to provide another ambulance, nor has the Commissioner of Health etc attempted to enforce that agreement.

She recounted the extraordinary delays encountered in answering emergency calls in Plainfield and that the surrounding squads are beginning to refuse to cover. They have no obligation to do so and such service is voluntary. She also noted that Plainfiled's squads income comes from insurance payment, and that only about 12% of the calls are adequately covered. With the closing of the hospital the trips are longer and Medicare reimbursement no longer covers expenses. In addition only 4 hours of the day are covered by volunteer squad members, the other EMTs are salaried.

Other area squads receive between $50,000 and $100,000 yearly from their community. Plainfield receives nothing. Fuel which up to 1995 was delivered at cost by the city must be purchased from commercial vendors.

Assemblyman Green notes that
"In the last six months, we have accomplished a lot in terms of making sure the residents of Plainfield and surrounding communities receive the best medical care not only from Solaris, but also from the surrounding hospitals. Because the ambulance issue is a part of a group of other concerns in the lawsuit, I have asked the Mayor and Council President to finalize their concerns and send them to the State. They will separate our concerns from other organizations involved in the lawsuit who are trying to lump us together with their distractions, which would in turn, slow our process."

He again blames others for the lack of progress and does not give concrete examples of what has been accomplished for the residents of Plainfield to receive "the best medical care". He equates the grant of &644,250 to the Plainfield Health Center as "aid to our health services in lieu of Muhlenberg closing. I would hope that he would not consider using the Health Center as an acceptable lieu to the Hospital if he or his family had a life threatening medical emergency.

In all deference to our Assemblyman's position at the State<, I doubt that he could have stemmed the forces that closed Muhlenberg. Politically, probably only a few of the area State Senators could have exerted if they had wished that type influence.


What would be helpful if the Assemblyman would identify his "new Task Force", and specifically how he, the mayor, and the TaskForce are going to "move forward". Also why is everyone who disagrees with Jerry Green a New Democrat. It reminds me of McCarthy and his communist witch hunt.

To accuse the Muhlenberg Board of Governors as the initiators of the closing of the hospital is inane. That board was a puppet organization of which the Mayor was a member. Only Solaris' Board and administrative personnel had the power to make such decisions.

To further accuse the Muhlenberg Board as being New Democrats illustrates how far the hospital phantom leadership had changed from when I was a Board member by virtue if being the President of the Medical Staff. In those days I would have considered the average membership to be politically slightly to the right of Newt Gingrich.

It is time that all of us ditch the pre-election politics and finger pointing. The Rescue squad's problems began in a much earlier administration when there was insufficient volunteers to staff the ambulances 24/7. A contract was awarded a private ambulance service to provide coverage when the Plainfield squad could not provide coverage. The decision by city governments- administration and council to reduce hen stop funding belongs to New and Old and Pseudo Democrats over several years.

As an "outsider" I am convinced that Plainfield's administration and the 2008 Council did almost nothing to try to prevent Plainfield's present health care catastrophe. Nor has there been openness regarding present attempts to rectify the hospital and transportation crisis.

All this however is water over the dam. The Mayor and Assemblyman and Council should energetically act to remedy the mess resulting from transportation problems plus the physical and operational deficiencies at JFK. Plainfield must find money to support the squad. $100K to the squad is more important than an Information Technology director. We must get our priorities right. Health Care is as much a concern for Public Safety as reducing crime.



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