Mon EMS, WVU Medicine to merge EMS services

MORGANTOWN — Monongalia Health System and WVU Hospitals are pooling their resources to create one combined ambulance service in Monongalia County.
Mon Health System President and CEO David Goldberg and Albert Wright, president and CEO of West Virginia University Health System, announced the partnership during Wednesday’s Monongalia County Commission meeting.
Under the terms of the agreement, WVU Hospitals HealthTeam Critical Care Transport operations in the county will be transferred to Mon EMS. After the two entities are combined, Mon EMS will be jointly managed and operated by Mon Health System and WVU Hospitals.
The new entity will be branded under the name Mon EMS. Logos of both Mon Health Medical Center and WVU Medicine will appear on the ambulances.
Goldberg said he and Wright will be a part of a governing body  formed to oversee the entity. A new president/director will be recruited to lead the new partnership.
He said the goal is to have the two agencies merged by spring.
“We can collaborate and compete effectively, but this is really all about the patient. Plus, we already collaborate on a lot of things today,” Goldberg said, pointing to the organizations’ co-ownership of  HealthWorks as a template for the new venture. “I think we have to sometimes put our past behind us, put the egos outside the door and say ‘What’s best for the patient,’ and drive that forward.”
In the meantime, ambulances will be dispatched based on proximity to the call using MECCA 911’s CAD, or computer-aided dispatch, system.
The new setup will move away from the decades-old contract through which Mon EMS was the county’s primary provider and therefore always the first agency notified.
Changes to the longstanding EMS setup were set in motion earlier this year when WVU Hospitals announced HealthTeam Critical Care Transport and began stationing ambulances in outlying areas of the county, prompting residents to ask why crews were being dispatched from Morgantown despite the closer alternative.
The commission attempted to address those concerns in May by splitting the county into six EMS zones and initiating a move toward a CAD-based system. Even so, residents in some areas continued to call on the county to reduce response times.
One such resident is Kara Brown, whose son suffers from a severe peanut allergy. The Cheat Lake resident has been a regular at recent commission meetings lobbying the commission for a move away from a priority contract and toward a proximity-based dispatch.
“I just have to say that, honestly, I’m about to cry over the agreement,” she said. “To see these organizations come together, that should always be the intent, the betterment of the patient.”
Wright explained that the newly-formed agency will have vehicles based at the present Mon EMS headquarters as well as the Gateway complex, the Cheat Lake VFD, the Clinton District VFD and the Clay-Battelle Health Center.
He went on to say that the two organizations can provide better service working together than either could manage alone.
“Leaders from Health Team and Mon Health are going to start working together immediately. So even though it might not be finalized until the spring, you’re going to start seeing better collaboration now,” Wright said.
Patients will still have the option of which hospital they would prefer.
Commission President Tom Bloom called the announcement “A great holiday present for the citizens of Monongalia County.”
“I’ve been very, very excited about this. First, I can’t say enough about both organizations. We’ve put things behind us and what we’re doing is looking out for the best interest of the citizens of Monongalia County,” Bloom said. “What you’re doing, this is just groundbreaking.”
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