The Starke County EMS base in North Judson will soon have a paramedic on duty around the clock. The county commissioners approved the expansion of Advanced Life Support, or ALS, service to that base immediately and to Grovertown starting Jan. 1. Knox already has 24-hour ALS coverage. Having extra paramedics available will allow Starke County EMS to transfer patients from the hospital and nursing homes to other facilities and bill Medicare, Medicaid or private insurance for reimbursement. Commissioner Kathy Norem made it clear she does not want a memorandum of understanding with IU Health to take transfers from their facility.
“I don’t want taxpayers to fund the Greyhound Bus to LaPorte,” Norem said during yesterday’s meeting.
Starke County Council President Dave Pearman has worked closely with Starke County EMS officials on the proposed ALS expansion. He said a memorandum of understanding is irrelevant because the county will have adequate coverage should a transfer be necessary.
Norem stressed that sending patients out of the county for routine care is bad for business. “Every time we send a service to LaPorte hospital instead of keeping them here at Starke for things that we could do, somebody here doesn’t work. Somebody in Starke County does not collect a paycheck,” she said. “It is an economic problem when you don’t support your own hospital and you just allow the services to continue to dwindle to nothing. You’re not going to be able to recruit any more factories. That’s one of the things they look for. It’s a huge economic problem to not support our own hospital.”
She added it also creates a hardship for the families of patients to have to drive long distances to visit them in the hospital.
“I know for a fact that they are taking things up there that could be done here and should be done here, and if we let our hospital go, as elected officials, then we all ought to be shot at sunrise,” Norem said.