Should Oxnard Take Over Ambulance Services?

 

 

By Doug Partello


The City presses forward with a $20M contract with Falck ambulance service, for three years,  $500K in equipment, and billing contract with Trident, when the court battle over their ability to go it alone is not yet resolved. So, the City is rolling the dice they will get a favorable ruling, rather than wait til after the April 30th hearing.


Chief Hamilton made his proposal at the City Council Meeting, April 20, 2021 for approval of this plan. I saw his video presentation. I also attended prior meetings when he was selling this EMS take over, and desire to add 24 FTEs for paramedic/firefighters to run it. Seems to me VC Star and TriCounty Sentry did enough propaganda for his proposal. My previous article on this covered this. 

I include the relevant 4-20-21 City Council materials below:

 

N. REPORTS
1. Agreement A-8317 with Falck Mobile Health Corporation (“Falck”) for three years, with an option to renew for an additional two years, not to exceed $7,143,621 (Year 1), $6,862,321 (Year 2), $6,514,727 (Year 3), $6,683,131 (Year 4), and $6,826,999 (Year 5) for ambulance transport services and Purchase Order with Stryker Medical. (0/10/10)
…..
A $21 million gamble with taxpayer’s money, when they do not have the money to even support this move. By Chief Hamilton’s own admission, the City will be in  the red for $2M, or more, the first couple of years. Oxnard has the highest percentage of MediCal clients for transport. Gold Coast Ambulance, which just got a three year renewal of their construct, gets about $130 per transport reimbursement, according to Jeremy Schumaker, Regional Manager for AMR/GCA. This does not cover their expenses for these transports. But, the private insurance reimbursements from other clients helps balance out the equation.

If the City wins, they still have the issue of paying for new ambulances, equipment, training, increasing cost of outsourcing the billing and management of this service.

Let’s remember, the ultimate goal of OFD is to have Oxnard paramedic/firefighters staff this service. Falck is a temporary stop gap until OFD gets up and running. How they will do this more cost effective than GCA, with pensions, and benefits is unfathomable.

This is a move to take the focus off the unfunded pensions. They claim $2 million in added revenue, when a City cannot make a profit on a service.

County will continue to handle dispatch to AMR/Gold Coast Ambulance (GCA). The City has two options; stop, or Oxnard Police Department (OPD) dispatch to themselves. How is that going to work? Assuming they win in court, which is a dubious hope.

Chief Hamilton, Oxnard Fire Department (OFD) claimed poor response times, but the facts do not support that assertion. He stated 91.5% compliance with exemptions. The latest data for GCA is 93.87%. Oxnard has the best response times in the County, and possibly in the whole state. When factoring response times, he failed to mention call density, which is a very important factor. What criteria did he use to come up with his maps? GCA has never not been in compliance. When did Chief Hamilton reach out to VCEMS, or GCA to address their concerns? The County system sends the closest ambulance, regardless of which company, under mutual aid agreements. How will that work when Oxnard is on its own? This is a solution seeking a problem. Just more losing litigation, at taxpayer expense, for an ill conceived and ill fated gamble. I urge you to vote no on this proposal, at least postpone it until the court battle is done. The next litigation may be with Falck Ambulance Service. They may walk away with the $150K start up costs, but they also invest in this gamble, and may have more costs of that investment. Oxnard better plan instead on how to pay back the $34 million to the utility funds, and $2M to the utility ratepayers, than keep rolling the dice with partial, and false data to justify their gambling problem. Remember, this is the City which cannot maintain our streets, or landscaping. This time they are gambling with our lives.

At the April 30, 2021 hearing, Oxnard sought a preliminary injunction to stop the county’s contract for ambulance services in the territory which includes Oxnard.

The judge kicked the city to the curb.  Here are the minutes from the 4/30 hearing that have her ruling after it was taken under submission.

http://www.ventura.courts.ca.gov/CivilCaseSearch/ViewDoc/%7B1E6A2D7B-88E5-4A16-95DF-FF25D9E3C1FE%7D

It includes such things as, “At this stage, the Court is not convinced that City has the legal right to provide ambulance services.”

The first paragraph on p. 5 is also pretty amusing. It is hard to know whether to feel amused or sad at the City’s laughable legal arguments.

This hearing was a request for a preliminary injunction, and the city could still press for a full hearing without asking for the injunction, but the judge is basically telegraphing that the city’s entire case is toast.  The city can waste more taxpayer money on more attorneys if they wish, but the result is highly unlikely to be different if they continue to pursue the rest of the case. Given their history of pursuing ill-conceived and ill-fated litigation, it is likely they will waste more public funds to another dead end.


 


Previous article:
December 14, 2020 •  … By Doug Partello. The City of Oxnard moves to take over EMS ambulance services, cut Ventura County EMS …

Here is another opinion ….

 

—–Original Message—–
From: “Winch, Kim” <[email protected]>
Sent: Wednesday, April 21, 2021 5:52pm
To: “R&R Neighborhood Liaison Team” <[email protected]>
Cc: “Hamilton, Alexander” <[email protected]>, “Scott Brewer” <[email protected]>
Subject: Chief Hamilton’s presentation on Oxnard’s Emergency Ambulance Services contract

Hello Ready & Resilient and CERT Graduates,

I’ve included a link to a 15 minute Presentation from Chief Hamilton that he gave to the City Council on April 20, 2021.
He is updating the council on the City and the Fire Department’s efforts to take control over Oxnard Emergency Agency contracts.
He gives background into the problems that the City and its residents have had to endure in regards to Ambulance response and why the Fire Department has taken on this important task.
If you have questions for Chief Hamilton, please make sure you attend your next neighborhood meeting.
He is doing his best to get invited and attend each and every neighborhood meeting to speak on this.
If you do not know who your neighborhood chairperson is, please click on the Neighborhood Council’s page on the
City’s website https://www.oxnard.org/neighborhood-services/ and click on “Find My Neighborhood.”
The link to the Neighborhood Councils Weekly Packet will give you a list of when the next meetings will occur.
Chief Hamilton will be updating his presentation as new information and questions come up.
I encourage you to share this with your friends, family and neighbors:)
Please contact us if you have any questions,
Kim Winch
Oxnard Fire Dept 
Training Admin Secretary II
Ready & Resilient / CERT
(o) 805-982-7280
(c) 805-302-9771
 

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Citizens Journal

Douglas Partello is a homeless advocate, community activist, retired neonatal respiratory therapist, Executive Director of Nicaraguan Children’s Fund.


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Barny Fife

Kim Winch is scary.
Don’t let her near your pets
Her husband’s good renter