08/18/06 — County is offering transport service

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County is offering transport service

By Andrew Bell
Published in News on August 18, 2006 1:48 PM

Wayne County launched a new ambulance service this week that will provide non-emergency transport for chronically ill patients to and from their homes and their physicians.

Wayne NET is designed to provide an additional service to Wayne residents and to reduce the number of non-emergency calls that the private company, Johnston Ambulance Service, has to answer, said Blair Tyndall, manager of the county Emergency Medical Services Department.

Tyndall said he and other county officials have been visiting nursing homes, rest homes, the hospital and various clinics this week to explain the service to medical professionals.

WayneNET Coordinator James Gray said many county residents are unable to drive to their doctor's offices for dialysis, x-rays and other appointments. The county now has two ambulances that can transport them, from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.

"If there happened to be a disaster or a really bad accident, (WayneNET) can supplement them with that. With these trucks making these scheduled appointments, it'll keep 911 trucks available for true emergencies," Tyndall said.

At one time, the county had two private ambulance services in operation to handle non-emergency calls but one, Convalescent Transports, went out of business. Tyndall said the new county service would again give county residents two options. He said the county is not trying to take business away from Johnston Ambulance Service but simply meet the need that county officials have seen for more ambulances.

"We're not trying to create any competition. We just saw a need for service for the citizens," Tyndall said.

The county will charge patients the rate set by the federal government as Medicare or Medicaid reimbursement, Tyndall said. By next month, Gray said he believes the new organization will break even and start turning a profit soon after. County officials intend for WayneNET to be self-sufficient. That would prevent tax dollars from being used to support it.

"This could offset some of the other costs in the county and help take some of the burden off of the taxpayers," Gray said.

If the program is successful, Tyndall said WayneNET might eventually make one of the two ambulances available for service 24 hours a day.

The WayneNET EMS trucks are maintained at the rescue building on Madison Avenue and are available to county residents that qualify for transportation. To schedule a trip with WayneNET, call 731-1416.

In the coming weeks, WayneNET will be changing phone numbers and will also incorporate a wheelchair van for residents that don't qualify for the ambulances, Gray said.