By Gari Voss
The exchange of memorandum between Ascension Borgess Allegan and Life EMS Ambulance has opened questions related to area emergency services and ambulance response to 911 calls.
On October 21, 2022, John Pinkster, Director of South Operations for Life EMS Ambulance, informed Allegan Area Emergency Services committee members that there was change in the wind. The communication shared that on October 19, 2022, “Life EMS received a termination of lease notice from Medxcel (a subsidiary of Ascension which handles their various real estate transactions).”
The essence was that “Life EMS must vacate the ambulance base located in front of and owned by Ascension Borgess Allegan Hospital (570 Linn St.) by 1/1/2023.” Pinkster believed that the partnership between Ascension Borgess Allegan and Life EMS has always been “in good standing”. Therefore, the notice blindsided the company leaders.
Since no reason for this move was articulated, Pinkster explained that Life EMS leadership was urgently seeking answers or a rationale from Ascension Borgess’ surprise action.
November 7, 2022, Director Pinkster sent a follow-up after Life EMS president Mark Meijer had spoken with Ascension Borgess’ new regional president Dr. Tom Rohs regarding the decision to terminate the Life EMS lease on January 1, 2023 rather than when the lease would initially end on December 31, 2023.
Dr. Rohs confirmed that Ascension Borgess will place a Plainwell Area EMS ambulance that is owned by Ascension Borgess in the ambulance base currently occupied by Life EMS.
“Ascension intends to use this ambulance solely for the interfacility transfers originating from Ascension Borgess Allegan,” wrote Pinkster.
Life EMS had recently approached area governments to obtain a 10% increase to cover costs for services. Meijer expressed that losing the Allegan base would most probably increase costs beyond the 10% for the Allegan area municipalities of the City of Allegan, Allegan Township, Trowbridge Township, Cheshire Township, and Valley Township. This did not seem to factor into Dr. Rohs and Ascension Borgess’ decision.
In the meanwhile, Life EMS has less than 2 months to locate a new home base and determine how much the loss of Ascension Borgess’ interfacility transfer revenue will affect the cost of operating 911 response in areas of Allegan County.
For Ascension Borgess Allegan, this is in line with other fiscal decisions, but it leaves questions of residents about 911 emergency response to residents. Requests for information regarding the lease termination or how Ascension Borgess Allegan and Dr. Rohs envision changes in 911 emergency requests have yet to be acknowledged.
Additional information has not been procured from Life EMS, but Pinkster did express, “While the unexpected Ascension Borgess action is unfortunate, we remain committed to you, the municipalities we serve in our Allegan response area, and want to reassure you that Life EMS intends to continue delivering skill and compassion when people need it most.”
Municipalities will watch and listen for additional information regarding emergency services, so they can assist constituents as needs arise.