Crown Point to start charging for ambulance calls that don’t result in transport
By Carrie Napoleon Post-Tribune correspondent March 13, 2013 1:05PM
Updated: April 15, 2013 11:19AM
CROWN POINT — Residents who repeatedly call out the city’s ambulance service only to refuse transport to a nearby hospital soon will be charged for those calls.
The Board of Public Works and Safety on Wednesday approved a request by Crown Point Fire Rescue Chief Greg DeLor to begin charging what the chief described as repeat offenders who abuse how the ambulance service operates.
“Over the last few years we have seen a sharp increase in the number of calls we get for assistance that do not go to the hospital,” DeLor said. Currently, the department is only able to bill for ambulance service if a patient is transported to the hospital. DeLor said amending the department’s billing schedule to include charges for basic life support and advanced life support calls when transport is refused is needed to stop the problem.
City Attorney David Nicholls said in reviewing the situation with DeLor it was apparent the department needs to start billing for its time.
“It became extremely evident certain citizens are abusing the service,” Nicholls said.
DeLor said the types of abusive situations the department encounters for basic life support include repeated calls for assistance from individuals who fall and cannot get up, cannot get up off the toilet and other calls for that type of help. In the case of repeat offenders those are services that should be provided by a home health care worker not the city’s paramedics, DeLor said.
Examples of advanced life support services include situations with some diabetic patients who routinely allow their blood sugar to drop significantly enough they lose consciousness. When the ambulance arrives DeLor said paramedics administer glucose through an IV and once the patient regains consciousness, the person declines transport.
In 2012 the department responded to one place 40 times for basic life support services without transport. So far this year the department has been to one location 17 times and another nine times without transport after providing basic life support services. The department already also has responded to the same place for an advanced life support service call four times this year.
Mayor David Uran said the city is not trying to discourage taxpayers from calling the Fire Department for emergency services but it needs to have a mechanism in place to stop individuals from taking advantage of the system.
Uran said the amendment should include the ability for the chief and the billing department to waive charges for a first call. He said the chief should also have a conversation with those who are known to take advantage of the system warning them of the potential charges for future calls.
DeLor said the department is not looking to make money on the charges but needs to cover its expenses in an era of ever-decreasing budgets. A basic life support service call without transport will cost a flat rate of $100. Fees for an advanced life support service call without transport will be calculated the same way they are for advanced life support calls with transport and are based on the type of life support given and materials and supplies used.