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The Villages
Saturday, June 12, 2021

Official reveals UF Health could be replacement for firefighters’ medical response

The Sumter County administrator has revealed that UF Health is among “multiple options” to be presented to commissioners next month as the future of medical response by The Villages Public Safety Department remains a mystery.

The Professional Firefighters of The Villages over the weekend issued a statement highly critical of Administrator Bradley Arnold’s proposal to look into eliminating the response of the fire departments within Sumter County to all medical calls for 911 service. In The Villages, the vast majority of calls are related to medical issues, due to the age of the population. The Villages Public Safety Department has about a four-and-a-half-minute response time, which is considered to be top-notch.

The firefighters encouraged residents to reach out to their commissioners as well as Arnold. Reportedly, their in-boxes were inundated.

However, Arnold was critical of an article on the firefighters’ union’s response which was published in Villages-News.com. He indicated there is much more to the story.

In preparation for the May 18 presentation to the board, and as part of our two-year process of updates on improving patient outcomes, I will present an update to those areas the board supported for implementation as well as opportunities for further consideration to again improve patient outcomes,” Arnold said.

He indicated that the county’s contract with American Medical Response ambulance service, which has been under heavy criticism for delayed response time, is set to expire in September 2022.

“I have met with representatives of UF Health to see what interest they might have in improving our patient outcomes through a larger review of the system as a whole and how they might serve in the implementation. The reason for meeting with them is they provide the bulk of the transport drop locations for hospitalization (either at the free-standing ER, The Villages Hospital, or the Leesburg hospital). The concept, as well as additional options for the Board to consider, will be part of that presentation for the board’s direction,” Arnold said.

However, the UF Health option is not the only one that will be offered for the board’s consideration, he said.

“I am staging these multiple options for timing and budget impact should the board accept any of the next steps to improve the delivery of medical service in Sumter County,” he said.

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