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B-L Ambulance District board approves technology upgrade

Friday, June 4, 2010

A major technology upgrade has been approved by the Barry-Lawrence Ambulance District Board of Directors.

For the past five years, the board has talked about putting laptop computers in all its ambulances and converting record keeping from handwritten to electronic charts. The final pieces in the system-wide conversion came together at the May board meeting.

Board members voted to purchase a ProLiant ML350 G6 tower server to link together the office and laptops on all the ambulances. The purchase was made from JMark Business Solutions, of Springfield, for $11,420.35, plus $2,750 for installation. Two ruggedized Panasonic laptops were then purchased from ACS Technology Solutions Partner for $8,526.13, along with the electronic patient care reporting software from TriTech for $8,425.

Office Manager Jeaneittia Pierce presented the package plan to the board as a way to streamline patient care reporting. Pierce said the docking system would come with four mounts, so the computers could be switched between ambulances. The laptops will and a three-year warranty.

The computer would generate a report on patient care, eliminating the handwritten account. The laptop would uplink with the hospital's computer via a Blue Tooth connection to print out the report.

Pierce said having a report already in the computer would eliminate entry of run reports back at the office. Billing should be reduced from a two-to three-day process to a one-to two-day transaction, leaving more time for analysis and work on unpaid bills.

Board members also voted to renew health insurance coverage with the present carrier, Anthem. The district changed its policy, including the addition of a co-pay feature for employees. By staying with the same plan, the final package represented an increase of less than 3 percent rather than a 26 percent price boost, Pierce said.

General agreement was reached to seek grant money to purchase a mass casualty incident trailer to better respond to bigger disasters. Board members also voted to send paramedic Andy McCaslin to Incident Response Terrorist Bombing training in Socorro, N.M. As the district's education officer, McCaslin will bring technical information back to train other employees.

Crews made 167 runs in April, the lowest number since January 2009. The total of the first four months of 2010 is down almost 4 percent from a year ago.

Of the 138 runs completed, 41 patients went to Cox Monett Hospital, 56 went to Springfield hospitals, 10 went to Joplin hospitals, six to St. John's Hospital-Cassville, three to St. John's Hospital-Aurora and 14 to nursing care facilities.

Crews picked up five calls for other services, resulting in two runs to Joplin, one to Cassville, one to Springfield and one to a helicopter landing zone. Three calls were turned over to other services.

The district scheduled 320 hours of overtime over two pay periods in April and paid another 70 hours in unplanned overtime on top of that.

McCaslin reported teaching one healthcare provider CPR class. One person was certified. McCaslin is now offering continuing education units for staff and completed a session on sleep deprivation during April.

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