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Contract signed for management of OCEMS by Baptist Hospital Northeast

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By Tracy Harris

Plans to outsource management duties at Oldham County EMS became final Tuesday when county officials signed a contract with Baptist Hospital Northeast.

Baptist Hospital Northeast will operate OCEMS under the name Baptist Healthcare Affiliates, similar to an arrangement Baptist Healthcare has with an ambulance service in Paducah.

Baptist Hospital Northeast officials estimate a budget of about $3.4 million annually, slightly less than the 2011-12 budget of $4.1 million.

The county will pay a stipend of about $2.2 million annually to pay for salaries, benefits, equipment, supplies and fuel.

The hospital expects to receive additional revenue from insurance payments and special event coverage to make up the difference.

Chris Roty, president of Baptist Hospital Northeast, said if the ambulance service becomes profitable, the ambulance taxing district and hospital will split the proceeds — and the same with losses.

Officials hope the change will alleviate financial concerns but say residents should not notice a decrease in care.

“People who need help will still call 911,” said Judge-Executive David Voegele. “And they’ll still be able to choose any healthcare facility of their choice.”

Discussions about outsourcing administrative duties began earlier this year as way to address flat revenues and rising retirement expenses.

The change will remove employees from the state’s hazardous duty retirement plan. Stan Clark, an OCEMS board member and county CFO, said the hazardous duty plan will cost OCEMS $650,000 this year.

Six evaluators reviewed proposals from outside management companies in April.

Evaluators agreed Baptist is the best fit to manage OCEMS — what Clark calls the “most advantageous” solution, although not necessarily the least expensive.

Baptist is the only non-profit that submitted a response.

OCEMS employees have been asked to reapply for their positions online in order to streamline personnel records. Employees are subject to a drug test and a background check.

Roty said he expects all employees who reapply for their jobs to be rehired at their same rate of pay. Insurance will remain unchanged until January, when employees will have access to the company’s healthcare, retirement, paid time off and tuition reimbursement programs.

The Kentucky Society for Human Resource Management named Baptist Hospital Northeast as a winner in its 2012 Best Places to Work in Kentucky competition.

Training will continue for community members and first responders, who provide assistance and backup to OCEMS.

OCEMS will also continue to station an ambulance in North Oldham and will continue using existing Oldham County Dispatch services.

Baptist currently operates another ambulance company, Mercy Regional EMS, in Paducah. Mercy Regional EMS handles about 13,000 service calls per year — about three times the volume of OCEMS.

The Oldham County Ambulance Taxing District will retain control of the agency and ownership of facilities and equipment.

Voegele said he plans to expand the taxing district board to five members, filling three positions in the coming months.

Baptist will take control of operations July 1 with Jamey Locke as the interim director. Locke is currently the director of Mercy Regional.