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The Villages
Saturday, May 8, 2021

Make sure you understand what’s at stake with EMS service

David Bussone

While discussing any proposals regarding our fire rescue and EMS services it’s a good idea to know who is on first.

Sumter County, by law, controls decisions on ambulance services, and provides fire rescue services outside of The Villages. American Medical Response is the current EMS provider in Sumter County. GMR is AMR’s parent. GMR provides helicopter ambulance service for UF Health. UF Health operates The Villages Regional Hospital and Leesburg Regional Hospital. UF Health also has a strong relationship with many of our physicians through The Villages Health physician group. UF’s primary interest is in gleaning patients for its Gainesville academic medical center. Patients support the financial, teaching, research, and patient care missions of UFHealth. They are the hub and The Villages is the spoke. They need us. They need our money, they need us for patient volume, and they need us for “teaching and research material.”

Now we hear that the county is possibly interested in having UF Health manage the EMS service. Let’s take a look at how UF Health’s management has helped TVRH. A good source of information  for hospital quality of care is a website called HealthGrades. For TVRH, see the link below:

https://www.healthgrades.com/hospital-directory/florida-fl/uf-health-the-villages-hospital-hgst9ceaa9f0100290

We know anecdotally the ER is a serious issue. The number of patients who would recommend the hospital is 22 percent below the national average. Many clinical conditions and procedures are rated at one star (out of five) for quality. The quality of care is generally mediocre to poor.

UF Health is already running our hospitals, ERs, many physician groups, and the county is proposing to let UF Health run the EMS program. So far, they haven’t done much to demonstrate they can appropriately operate the health services that they already have here. I’m not at all in favor of them taking on EMS. Why would we want UF Heath controlling the largest portions of the healthcare system in Sumter County … simply to meet their need for patients, money and research? Don’t get me wrong, UF Health is a good organization, but have they bitten off more than they can chew here? I think so!

How about if one of the options our county commissioners considered would be to let our fire rescue service operate our EMS service? It is a natural fit, works well in many other areas, would certainly benefit our residents, and enhance our existing superb fire rescue program.

David Bussone is a resident of The Villages.

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