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FDNY’s EMS fee plan riles hospitals

The head of some of Queens’ major hospitals sounded off last week over the city’s proposal to charge medical centers that use FDNY ambulances to help transport patients.

Under the plan, which is set to go into effect in 2012, the FDNY would charge the hospitals that it currently provides volunteer ambulances for with a fee for their services.

The city said it was made to cut costs of the voluntary service, which is used by 25 of the city’s medical centers, including Jamaica and Flushing hospitals, because of budget problems.

Ole Pedersen, vice president of emergency medicine for the MediSys Health Network, the parent company of Jamaica, Flushing and Peninsula hospitals, slammed the city for the idea because it would cost the financially burdened medical centers millions.

“Simply stated, hospitals, such as ours in underserved communities, could not absorb the added cost,” he said in a statement.

The FDNY would not comment on how much the fee would be for the Queens hospitals, but Petersen said the fees to MediSys’ entire system would be $1.2 million. A spokesman for the city Fire Department said the proposal, which will go into effect in January 2012, was meant to help out both medical centers and the city.

The FDNY said the fee accounts for the costs for maintaining its 911 dispatch and telemetry system, which assists private hospitals with their own ambulance fleets.

“This is a cost-sharing plan,” said FDNY spokesman Steve Ritea.

Ambulances will also be charging victims of vehicular accidents different fees under certain circumstances.

Since the closure of Mary Immaculate and St. John’s hospitals last year, Queens medical centers have been flooded with more patients and have had to deal with rising costs. Pedersen said costs were alleviated by having the FDNY assist the hospitals with the ambulance tours without the fee.

“If hospitals have to drop out, the cost for the city to replace ambulances will be far greater than the amount of revenue they would gain by draining an already overburdened health-care system,” he said.

Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at ipereira@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.

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