McDonough District Hospital CEO Kenny Boyd said the only way to prevent the hospital from losing $200,000 a year on ambulance service is by outsourcing it.
Boyd said that ambulances are not a core hospital service and that MDH is the only hospital in Illinois still providing this service without receiving any tax support.
Community members voiced their concern for this possible change in front of the hospital board during a public forum. John Carson, a resident of Macomb, said his main concern with privatizing EMS is quality of service.
“These people are responsible for delivering the primary medical care in an emergency. If you get a privatized company, who holds them responsible?” he asked.
Boyd faced tough scrutiny at the forum, with community members demanding more information and insisting the service MDH provides is just fine.
During the forum Boyd gave a presentation highlighting some of the bigger picture items such as the cost of maintaining the machinery and medical equipment at the hospital. He said the meeting was about more than just the EMS service.
“It’s a difficult place to be, I understand that it causes a lot of fear but I think it’s important for us to hear the feedback from the community, but I also think it’s important for the community to understand the reality,” Boyd said.
Boyd said MDH is considering three providers for the service: Lifeguard Ambulance Services, AMT, and Midwest Transport Company, which began operating the hospital's non-emergency transport service this year.
Boyd said whoever takes over would need to be located inside McDonough County. They also would be required to offer job opportunities to current MDH staff at their current rate of pay and give credit for years of service to MDH.
After the forum, Carson felt more questions were raised than answered.
“I don’t think it’s been well thought out, with a lot of questions that need to be answered. I’m not real comfortable giving up our local ambulance service," he said.
The hospital board is scheduled to meet late this month to discuss how it might proceed.