The Jersey Journal reported on Friday, December 13, 2013 that Mayor Fulop and his administration want to change Jersey City’s EMS provider. I wrote a separate blog post here that goes into more background about both providers. The Jersey City Medical Center (JCMC) is the current EMS provider, and their current contract expires on December 31, 2013. The Mayor’s preferred provider for the new contract is Bayonne-based McCabe Ambulance.
In the five days since the mayor’s announcement about preferring McCabe Ambulance instead of JCMC, their has been robust public debate in the Jersey Journal and on online message boards, and City Council members have been inundated with calls from residents. The City Council was supposed to vote on the EMS contract at tonight’s meeting (the last City Council meeting of the calendar year). But today, only hours before the planned vote, the city decided to remove the EMS contract vote from the agenda because it is “expecting an outside legal opinion that will answer council members’ questions.”
I am glad the City Council is still asking questions, because many questions remain unanswered. Here are some questions I still have, based largely off of a simple gap analysis.
Gap Analysis for Jersey City EMS Contract Transition (if McCabe Ambulance is chosen as the new vendor via City Council vote)
All numbers provided below are sourced to local press reports. Ideally, primary data – provided by the city and put into a usable/readable format for the public – would be optimal, but lacking that, I had to cobble together numbers from news reports.
(Represents current demand for EMT services in Jersey City)
IN SERVICE AS OF TODAY
|# Of Current Calls (represents demand met with current resources)||10,000 calls within Bayonne / 22,000 calls in greater Hudson County area||Approx. 91,000 within Jersey City||69,000 responses/calls
(using 22,000 as base/as-is)
|# Of Employees (EMT, paramedics, dispatchers, drivers, support staff)||125||250||125 employees|
|# Of Ambulances||18||42||24 ambulances|
|Net financial gain to city||$0.0 –
|$0.0|| $0.0 –
|Net financial loss to city||$0.0||$0.0||$0.0|
|Cost of transition to city||Unknown||$0.0||Unknown|
* Please see #1 under “Financial Questions” below.
- General Questions:
- Is the chart above a fair representation of as-is and future state if McCabe Ambulance is chosen as the EMS provider as of Jan 1, 2014? If not, why not? Can the city provide transition details to the public?
- The City Council was, as early as 9am today, readying to vote on the EMS service provider for the city. Is the city’s decision to postpone the vote solely because of “an outside legal opinion” or are other concerns apparent to the City Council?
- If the answer to #1 above is “yes – the only reason is outside legal opinion,” then: McCabe Ambulance would only have 13 calendar days and 8 business days between tomorrow and January 1, 2014 to make the transition (if it was voted as the new EMS provider). Is the City Council confident that there was sufficient time for McCabe to transition into its new role, given Financial, EMT/Ambulance, and Transition Timeline related questions below? If yes, what is your basis of your confidence (i.e. a transition report)?
- I don’t fully understand the payment of $2.6 million from McCabe Ambulance to Jersey City. Is this a net gain to the city, i.e. is the city currently paying the JCFD $2.6 million above and beyond the contracted amount to JCMC? Can cost / benefit analysis used to justify this payment as “beneficial to the city” be made available to the public?
- Will the city incur any costs related to changing EMS providers? If so, have those costs been quantified and factored into the rationale to change vendors? I have not read anything about transition costs in the press, but assume they exist in the normal course of business.
EMT / Ambulance Resource Questions
- Mr. McCabe (owner of McCabe Ambulance) stated his intention to purchase 15 new ambulances if he is awarded the contract. Will those 15 ambulances be ready on January 1, 2014?
- As of November 2013, McCabe Ambulance is on record in the Jersey Journal as having 18 ambulances. If he purchases 15 ambulances, that will bring his fleet up to 33 vehicles, which is 9 fewer than the 42 ambulances currently owned by JCMC. Is this 9-ambulance gap a concern? If not, why not?
- How long does it take to procure a fully equipped BLS ambulance? A fully equipped ALS ambulance? Is the EMS provider required to own a certain number of each type of ambulance if so, how many of each? How many of each – BLS and ALS ambulance – does McCabe Ambulance currently own?
- Mr. McCabe is currently recruiting employees on Facebook in anticipation of being awarded the contract. As of November 2013, McCabe Ambulance is on record in the Jersey Journal as having 125 employees. JCMC’s EMS team currently has 250 employees. Do you believe McCabe will have to staff up to the 250 EMTs, paramedics, dispatchers, drivers, and support staff currently employed by JCMC’s EMS?
Transition Timeline Questions:
- If, at 12:00am on January 1, 2014, McCabe Ambulance is contractually bound to provide EMS service but cannot meet the demands currently met by JCMC, who will provide EMS service to Jersey City?
- Did the Mayor or City Council have any thoughts as to the feasibility of conducting this EMS provider transition during peak holiday season, with Christmas Day and New Year’s Day being federal holidays, with employees potentially being out of town, on vacation, etc?
- Would city employees have been required to work overtime to allow this transition to move forward and if so, was any associated overtime cost factored into the decision to switch vendors?
Questions Related to a Delay of Vote:
Per the Jersey Journal, the mayor stated his administration will request that “JCMC continue providing ambulance service on a month-by-month basis, at no cost, until a new provider is approved.”
- Has the JCMC agreed to this go-forward plan?
- Is a month-to-month contract legal?
- Are there any costs to the city associated with extending the JCMC contract (e.g. procurement services within City Hall) on a month-to-month basis?
- Will the administration or the City Council be releasing a transition report aimed at the public (i.e. average layperson, not healthcare or non-profit professional) that will provide the public with assurances that McCabe Ambulance can meet the demand currently met by JCMC?
These are my initial questions. Some of these may be quickly answered, as I am not a healthcare professional and may lack basic knowledge that would allay some of these concerns.