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New ambulance agreement 'a win for the community'

Alex Doty • Nov 10, 2017 at 10:00 AM

Northwest Ottawa County communities are close to a new contract extension with the local hospital for ambulance services.

Grand Haven Public Safety Director Jeff Hawke presented details of the extension to the Grand Haven City Council during a recent work session. The agreement is a public/private partnership between North Ottawa Community Hospital and the governments of the cities of Grand Haven and Ferrysburg; Spring Lake Village; and Grand Haven, Spring Lake, Crockery and Robinson townships.

Hawke said he is happy with the way things had worked out between the local communities and the Grand Haven hospital.

“I think it represents a win for the community and for NOCH all the way around,” he told City Council.

The Ambulance Oversight Committee had negotiated with NOCH for several months regarding the renewal of the contract. The current agreement has been in place for five years, with a provision for automatic one-year renewals unless one of the parties gives notice of a desire to renegotiate or terminate the deal.

According to Hawke, notice was given Dec. 26, 2016, of the desire to renegotiate the contract. The focus of the negotiations since early spring were centered on improving response times, staffing, ambulance positioning and the use of mutual aid.

Per the negotiated agreement, NOCH has agreed to reduce the response time for 90 percent of Priority 1 calls in urban areas to be less than eight minutes.

“That’s the bread-and-butter call,” Hawke said. “That’s where we are going to save lives.”

NOCH has agreed to increase staffing by adding a third ambulance during peak call times — from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday — with support from area fire departments to drive the ambulance when needed. Should a fire department assist in driving the third ambulance, the hospital remains responsible for all patient and billing reports, drug/IV exchanges, ambulance repair and maintenance, and ambulance cleaning and decontamination.

Additionally, when mutual aid ambulance service is requested, such as Pro-Med from Muskegon, the response time for the mutual aid ambulance will be counted for reporting purposes.

Hawke noted that the changes are all improvements from the current contract.

“I think NOCH willingly went a long way to meet us where we needed to be,” he said.

NOCH EMS Manager Tom Stanley said he is also pleased with the new agreement, and said he thought the contract extension took service to the next level for Grand Haven and the surrounding communities.

The contract is to be approved as a one-year extension, ending Dec. 31, 2018.

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