Passavant to discontinue Paramedic program; Lifestar, America to provide full ambulance services

By Blake Schnitker on February 20 at 4:07pm

A local hospital is announcing the discontinuation of Paramedic program at the end of March.

Passavant Area Hospital announced today that it will no longer offer paramedics, due to its inability to staff the program 24/7 as required by the Illinois Department of Public Health. Passavant will continue to work with other commercial ambulance companies such as Lifestar and America Ambulance to provide services to Jacksonville and the surrounding area.

President and CEO of Passavant Hospital Harry Schmidt made the announcement at a press conference this afternoon.

“We’ve had paramedics who are working in our emergency department, and periodically they would be dispatched to go support the other EMS providers or agencies out in the various communities. Over the years, as some of the commercial ambulance carriers have come into town, it’s been more and more difficult for us to recruit and retain that paramedic skill set to support our program. We applied for re-licensure of our program with our Illinois Department of Public Health, and on February 7th, we received a letter notifying us that our application to renew our license was denied. Therefore, we are going to have to discontinue providing that service on March 31st,” says Schmidt.

Schmidt says that paramedics at Passavant Hospital were only being dispatched to a small portion of the area’s overall emergency response calls, and that now, all of those responses will be handled by commercial ambulance companies.

“There’s a percent of 9-1-1 calls that Passavant used to be dispatched to that is going to need to be picked up by America and Lifestar (Ambulance). From a big picture perspective, Passavant was only providing approximately eight percent response to the paramedic required 9-1-1 calls, so it’s a very low number,” Schmidt explains.

Schmidt, along with officials from local commercial ambulance companies, says area residents should be reassured that the new providers have the capacity to continue providing quality service.

“Part of the reason (America and Lifestar Ambulance officials) are with us today is to give reassurance not only to the community but to the other EMS providers that they’ve got the capability to pick up this volume, and they’re willing to engage with the various EMS agencies to provide that service as well. The employees that are providing emergency service currently here at Passavant are still going to retain their positions in the emergency department and it’s going to allow us to focus on operations,” says Schmidt.

As Schmidt mentions, all of Passavant’s current EMS staff will remain on board, and focus on their work as emergency medical technicians.