This letter was submitted by Central Carolina CEO Spencer Thomas, CCH Board Chair Tom Snell, and CCH Chief of Staff Dr. Vincent Hoellerich.
The Lee County Board of Commissioners is exploring a dramatic change to our county’s emergency management services, and we need Lee County residents’ support to stop a move that may harm EMS and health care across our community.
For the first time in a quarter-century, Lee County leaders have opened bidding for the county EMS contract. After receiving two nearly identical bids from Central Carolina and FirstHealth — which does not run a hospital in Lee County — the county’s task force is recommending severing EMS ties with Central Carolina and going with FirstHealth.
Central Carolina Hospital has managed the EMS services for Lee County since 1997, and in that time, call volume has more than doubled, while response times remain in line or below the national average. Furthermore, Central Carolina EMS continues to achieve strong performance measures and outcomes, surpassing state and national averages. When comparing Utstein survival rates, which measure the percentage of patients that survive a sudden cardiac arrest outside of the hospital setting, CCH is at 40 percent, while state and national averages are at 29.4 percent and 29.2 percent, respectively.
Lastly, during this current contract term, Duke LifePoint Healthcare has invested over half a million dollars in new cardiac monitors, ambulances, a wheelchair van and $5,000 sign-on bonuses for paramedics.
By turning its back on its local hospital and its only 24/7 emergency department, Lee County will diminish our ability to provide seamless, quality care to its citizens and unseat more than 30 local EMS staff who our community has counted on during health emergencies for more than two decades.
With Central Carolina running EMS services, the people of Lee County could rest assured that they would continue to receive quality care from the ambulance to the emergency room and beyond. Mishandling these essential services will have grave consequences, including breaking the care chain in its most critical moments.
If you find this situation as disappointing as we do, please make your voice heard.
To enact this change, Lee County will present the proposition at two public hearings — one on Aug. 2 and one on Aug. 16. Prior to those meetings, I encourage you to call or email your county commissioner imploring him or her to maintain Lee County’s relationship with its local hospital.
CEO, Central Carolina Hospital
Board Chair, Central Carolina Hospital
Dr. Vincent Hoellerich
Chief of Staff, Central Carolina Hospital
I strongly disagree with going with First Health. I think our present EMS is doing a fine job and we would be amazed at the number of calls they receive each day and handle in a very timely and professional manner. Why would First Health want to invade our county when we are doing just fine on on our own. Who is benefiting $$ from this change?
I agree with Mrs. Harrington; follow the $$$. However the fact that CCH has been declining in providing health care services can not be ignored. First Health is a full service hospital, CCH is not. Many patients must be airlifted to surrounding hospitals. Many of the EMS employees will have to be retrained to meet First Health standards. Overall Lee County citizens will be better off in the future.
Spencer Thomas has ZERO credibility when it comes to ensuring medical services and providers/nurses stay in Lee County. He did not seem to care at all when decisions that he/Duke Lifepoint made drove off most of the nurses and doctors staffing a once-thriving Mother-Baby unit. Healthcare in the county has already been harmed by his “leadership”.
I would expect any new EMS provider to reach out to current employees to staff their new expanded needs. And train/invest in them as HUMAN resources. It’s just smart business.
Following the money is a very good idea. Duke Lifepoint/its parent company are worth BILLIONS. Yet they chose to be petty and cheap with their dedicated medical/nursing staff – to the point of retaliating against those of us who protested for safety’s sake. The safety of babies. And Dr. Hollerich KNOWS it.
Considering who actually owns the hospital, their goals, the sharp decline of a once good county hospital under their ownership and what Duke was given in exchange for their name, my opinion is that our county fathers made a wise decision. The EMS personal are second to none but there actually is a fairly pronounced seam once they enter CCH. There is an awfully good story here for some motivated journalist about what venture capitalism has done and is doing to rural healthcare.