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Story by Lindsey Enns
The Kenora District Services Board (KDSB) has been busy meeting with local hospitals across the region as they start moving forward with a new policy that could allow them to bill hospitals and nursing homes for non-urgent land ambulance patient transfers.
During their regular meeting on Oct. 4, the board reviewed the implementation of the KDSB non-urgent transfer policy designed to maximize land ambulance emergency resources. So far meetings have been held with four regional hospitals and a process has been designed to create options and engage the North West Local Health Integration Network, the provincial air ambulance service (ORNGE) and the Ministry of Health and Long Term Care to create an integrated solution to this long-standing problem.
KDSB director Dennis Leney says that the board has basically been running the service for free for the past 20 years and stresses that it’s time for the hospitals to start footing the bill.
“It’s a tough policy to look at and I mean this has been going on for 20 years now and we think we have to do something. This is just costing the board too much money,” Leney added.
“We’ve been doing this as a freebie for years and years and somewhere down the line it’s got to stop.”
KDSB board members say that non-emergency patient transfers have been costing them nearly $450,000 a year and they prevent ambulances from attending other critical calls in a timely fashion. Leney noted that double dispatching has also been causing problems across the region. He noted a time in Pickle Lake where ambulances were dispatched from Ignace, Sioux Lookout and Pickle Lake to join the fire department and ORNGE. He added that in some cases these resources are sent out to a call and aren’t even necessary.
“When you have four crews responding to one call you’re going to be short in other areas,” Leney said.
“This happens an awful lot especially in rural areas and they’ve got to come to a consensus that we’re not going to keep sending out all of these units at the same time.”
The new policy will take effect November 6. For more information you can visit www.kdsb.on.ca.