April Kuzas of Save Our EMS explains why Jersey City Medical Center should retain the city’s EMS contract.
LETTER TO THE EDITOR
BY APRIL KUZAS – SAVE OUR 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 cityâ€™s sole EMS provider.
On June 27, 2014, Mayor Fulopâ€™s administration issued a brand new RFP for the cityâ€™s EMS contract. Again, JCMC EMS and Carepoint/McCabe are the two potential providers that responded with EMS proposals.
Letâ€™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 Cityâ€™s â€œtale of two cities.â€
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 CarePointâ€™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 cityâ€™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.