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Ambulance called to take woman to hospital — one floor down

Updated: January 23, 2012 3:47AM



PORTAGE — A woman was in her doctor’s office, located inside Porter’s Portage Hospital Campus when she suffered a seizure Wednesday afternoon.

She needed help, and fast.

The emergency room was just one floor down.

But hospital personnel weren’t the first to respond.

Instead, the doctor called the Portage Fire Department to summon an ambulance so medics could assist the patient and get her downstairs.

Porter Health System CEO Jonathan Nalli said calling a city ambulance for emergencies is hospital policy and provides the “fastest and best care.”

“Technically, it is not in the hospital,” Nalli said. Tenants with offices in the hospital understand they should call 911 in an emergency rather than seek help from personnel in the building, Nalli asserted.

The woman’s neurologist, Dr. Richard Silberman, who rents office space from the hospital, declined comment on the incident.

Portage Fire Chief Thomas Feiffer said his department receives similar calls “once or twice a year.”

Feiffer explained, “It’s treated just like a call from any other doctor’s office.”

But sources in the medical community say the practice is costly, cumbersome and time-consuming.

Feiffer said the patient would be charged based on the care she received and the time it took to move her to the emergency room for treatment.

Federal privacy regulations prevent the chief, the doctor and the hospital from releasing any information about the woman’s condition.

But the radio dispatcher who notified Portage that their services were needed inside the hospital was clearly surprised by the call. She broadcast the location of the patient and informed medics that emergency room personnel would not respond to the doctor’s office.

Feiffer said sending emergency room personnel to other areas of the hospital could result in staffing problems and he understood their priorities.

Nalli said most hospitals have similar policies restricting response by emergency room personnel outside their assigned area.

Reach Lori Caldwell at 648-3258



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