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Commission Discusses Patient Transportation

By Staff | Nov 2, 2016

The Wetzel County Commission Oct. 25 and discussed emergency transportation for plus-sized patients. There has been a recent issue of a patient, of more than 400 pounds, having trouble with being transported from doctors appointments, regularly scheduled checkups, and in the case of an emergency. The problem lies where there are no ambulances in the county properly equipped and sized to transport a person of that size. The county standard-sized cots are too small and get top-heavy when a person of plus size is lifted in the air. In fact, some patients have refused transport because they did not feel safe on the regular-sized cots. Plus, as standard procedure, the sidebars must be raised and locked in an upright position. When the emergency workers do this, it puts pressure on the organs of the patient, along with bruising along the side of the patient’s rib and underarm areas. There are bariatric cots available however Wetzel County Hospitals do not have one, and if they did, they do not have a vehicle that can support it.

Also, there is not enough space in the back of the emergency vehicles for both the patient and the EMS workers. Most of the county ambulances are vans and are not wide enough for a bariatric cot and EMS worker to fit. None of the vehicles are rated to carry more than 700 pounds. Once the driver’s weight and patient’s weights are added, the vehicle’s capacity has been reached. Vehicles out of Doddridge and Marshall counties have been providing rides for the specific patient because the vehicles are equipped to carry more weight.

This patient in particular has been transported 85 times since 2007, costing $103,459.60. Due to write-offs, Medicaid regulations, and restrictions on coverage, the hospital had to write-off $98,817.34 and only cleared $4,642.26 dollars over the course of that period. The cost of a new vehicle and bariatric cot would be around $200,000 dollars. JanCare emergency vehicles have occasionally transported the woman, but due to regulations, they are not allowed to come and pick her up from her residence. Jim Colvin of Wetzel County Emergency Ambulance Authority stated, “I don’t understand that. I don’t know who is stopping them. We are certainly not stopping them.”

Commissioner Gorby asked Colvin, “I wonder if Folsom’s ambulances can handle it?”

Colvin replied, “I don’t have any idea about their truck… I don’t think their trucks are bariatric, not that I know of.”

Jimmy Glasscock, of Folsom Volunteer Fire Department, happened to walk into the meeting on behalf of another matter on the agenda, but while he was there Commissioner Gorby asked him, “Jim, will your ambulances handle the bariatric cot?”

Glasscock replied, “We have the extensions to take care of that, yes.”

The woman’s careworker stated that she had been never been put in contact with Folsom and that she had been a staff member for nearly a year.

Colvin replied, “Until today I didn’t know that they had a cot that could handle that, I had no reason to ask.” Folsom also has a cot that is rated for 650 pounds, even after being extended. It was recommended that the next time there is an issue, that they inform the 911 dispatch to directly contact Folsom Emergency Services.

In a separate matter, Glasscock informed the commissioners that the Smithfield Fire Department is now the full property of Folsom. Now that the deed has been settled, there is the issue of startup funds in the amount of approximately $140,000 dollars. Glasscock said that there was money absorbed by the Smithfield property release; however, it was set aside for insurance and emergency situations. He requested that the commissioners fund the new equipment that needs to be purchased. The commission requested an itemized list, stating the items and cost per item of everything that needs to be bought. Glasscock stated that his goal is to get everything up to date and rely on their funds to continue future progress and purchases. The commissioners will review the itemized list and make a decision at a later date.