OPINION: JCMC EMS should retain contract, RFP expands ‘tale of two cities’


April Kuzas of Save Our EMS explains why Jersey City Medical Center should retain the city’s EMS contract.

Jersey City Medical Center EMS
Jersey City Medical Center EMS


Last year, shortly after Mayor Steven Fulop took office, his administration issued a request for proposals (RFP) for emergency medical service (EMS) providers for Jersey City.

Two potential providers applied: Jersey City Medical Center EMS and CarePoint/McCabe Ambulance.

JCMC has been providing EMS for Jersey City for more than 130 years, while CarePoint had little history with the city before offering a proposal to become our EMS provider. The mayor and city council considered both proposals last fall, but chose to postpone a final decision in December after hearing vocal criticism from the community about flaws in the RFP process.

Since December, JCMC EMS has continued to serve as the city’s sole EMS provider.

On June 27, 2014, Mayor Fulop’s administration issued a brand new RFP for the city’s EMS contract. Again, JCMC EMS and Carepoint/McCabe are the two potential providers that responded with EMS proposals.

Let’s address the issue with the new RFP itself: it includes two potential contracting options. First, the city may select one provider to serve the entire Jersey City community; or second, it may choose to divide the city in two sections and award one section each to JCMC and CarePoint.

Mayor Fulop and his team obviously think the second option is a neat solution to their problem: allowing them to honor their political obligations while acknowledging the longstanding support JCMC has in our community. Splitting the city flies in the face of everything Mayor Fulop had promised to stand for during his campaign, specifically that he would end what he saw as Jersey City’s “tale of two cities.”

This proposal literally divides the city, a move without precedent in Jersey City or other cities in the state, while offering no public justification for the split. Unless someone can illustrate a credible benefit to the public as a result of dividing the city, the city should award the contract to a sole provider. That provider should continue to be JCMC EMS, due to the nature of the organizations themselves and the level of service each has the capacity to provide.

There is also a fundamental difference in status between JCMC and CarePoint that should impact how we view them and their proposals. A non-profit uses any surplus revenue to further its primary mission, while a for-profit organization exists explicitly to earn a profit and be responsive to its shareholders. We should be wary of any health provider that has to weigh health care delivery against its profit margin.

JCMC is a non-profit hospital that recently joined Barnabus Health, the largest health delivery system in New Jersey. CarePoint operates for-profit hospitals including Bayonne Medical Center, which was named the sixth-most expensive hospital in the nation.

It should be noted that in an interview with WPIX 11,
the president of New Jersey Association Health Plans specifically stated that CarePoint uses its emergency room as a profit center. This should call into question CarePoint’s motivation for pursuing the EMS contract.

Additionally, there are clear differences in the experience and service models of the two applicants. As noted, JCMC has been the city’s EMS provider for more than a century, while CarePoint has no history of operating extensively in Jersey City. Beyond that extensive difference in experience, JCMC EMS has far superior technology and delivery models.

JCMC is the only provider in Hudson County to use MARVLIS, an advanced modeling system using historical emergency data, GPS and a predictive algorithm to determine appropriate ambulance positioning throughout the city. Nationally, an eight-minute response time for emergency calls is considered excellent, but MARVLIS has helped JCMC EMS establish an average response time of just 6 minutes.

Meanwhile, CarePoint does not use a similar system and has proposed establishing stationary EMS depots (similar to firehouses) around Jersey City if selected. So, JCMC uses cutting-edge technology to deploy its ambulance fleet to best respond to emergencies throughout the city, while CarePoint will borrow strategy from the last century that allows little room for flexibility.

The city should choose one EMS provider to contract services for the entire city. Given its history of service to our city and its credentials as a leader in its field, that provider should clearly be JCMC EMS.

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    • Actually, the two hands already talk to each other. While JCMC would absolutely HATE to admit it, they would regularly call outside agencies (Carepoint/McCabe included) to help them when they became too busy with emergencies and needed assistance. So, yes, there would be no problem with communication. It has been going on for years and the only reason it would cease was if JCMC decided to take the immature line of refusing to talk with the other side.

  1. Other than MARVLIS, JCMC has absolutely NOTHING that CarePoint/McCabe doesn’t have. And with that said, MARVLIS is shockingly inaccurate and it is just using a basic algorithm to literally GUESS what might happen. This isn’t card-counting, we aren’t using loaded dice, this is real-life and no person nor any computer can tell what is going to happen where or when. So your statement of “far superior technology” is a gross overstatement and quite frankly ridiculous. Do you deny the fact that JCMC has geographical posts that they position their ambulances at? If you do deny it then you are a flat-out liar. These posts are most definitely NOT based on MARVLIS data, they are based on not leaving any one section of the city uncovered for a timely response. Additionally, what makes JCMC “a leader in its field” as you put it? Because they work in a large town? No. Because they bought into the idea of being able to control fate by using MARVLIS? Nope. JCMC doesn’t do anything special that would set them apart from ANY other municipal EMS provider in the State. You let me know when Scotty can take a call at HUDCEN and beam a crew into the scene of an emergency and then beam the patient back out, then you’ll set yourselves apart from the rest. Until then, stop having this high and mighty attitude because it is that attitude that got you into the predicament of the City wanting to find a replacement for you in the first place. The mindset that your employees are any better than other EMTs/Paramedics/EMS providers just because you work in JC is ridiculous and overtly pompous. How about we drop off one of your trucks in the middle of Compton or Camden and see how far your holier-than-thou attitudes get you at that point. I’ll tell you how far…nowhere.

  2. Why should JCMC and JCMC EMS get another chance at getting the Jersey City EMS contract? Does it matter whether JCMC has improved or not? They had their chance. JCMC EMS was not the preferred EMS provider back in December 2013–and for good reasons.

    Here are 28 million: Since 2006, JCMC PRICE-GOUGED the city of Jersey City TWENTY-EIGHT MILLION DOLLARS (count them) for mediocre EMS service which includes taking-away some people’s choice of hospital and missing calls to name a few. Now, JCMC is on fiscally sound footing and JCMC EMS has new equipment. I wonder if they forgot to thank the unsuspecting Jersey City taxpayers for making that possible? Oh–I forgot. They did thank the Jersey City taxpayers, they gave them higher emergency medical service prices. Thanks JCMC–our lives may not matter but it’s not surprising how much our wallets and purses does.

    Should JCMC win the EMS contract, this time around, who is going to be getting a SECRET kickback or political contribution. After 130 years, think JCMC hasn’t learned how to play the Jersey City political game? Think again.