Virtua went on the offensive Monday to defend itself as the provider for advanced life support (ALS) for all of Camden County except the city of Camden.
The Marlton-based health system posted a video on Facebook in which Virtua CEO Rich Miller said be believes Virtua is “under attack” by the Camden County Board of Freeholders, which is holding a public meeting to discuss emergency medical services [EMS] in the county.
Miller said the board has invited mayors from Camden County and representatives from Cooper Heath System to the meeting, but has not invited Virtua to participate.
“This clearly appears to be an attempt [by the board] to replace Virtua’s EMS services," he said. “Virtua met with [Camden County Freeholder Director] Louis Cappelli regarding EMS many months and asked him to stay in touch with any concerns. We have heard nothing.”
County spokesman Dan Keashan said ALS services is just one of four items on the agenda of a regular meeting the county holds with its mayors, and the discussion will relate to ALS response times first contained in a 2015 study the county commissioned. He said the meeting will also cover 911 call center improvements and a presentation by Cooper about a care program for patients its transports.
“Weeks ago the Freeholders were notified that Cooper Healthcare System has no interest in providing ALS or [basic life support] services to suburban towns outside of Camden City,” Keashan said. “Mr. Miller is obviously trying to distract from the service Virtua is providing, the facts and data are clear in regard to response times. Simply put, time matters and residents expect and deserve more from their ALS provider.… If you live in towns like Winslow, Oaklyn, Gloucester City, Cherry Hill, Voorhees or Gloucester Township, chances are the provider is not meeting the standard because there are not enough rigs on the road. Unfortunately, if you live in Pine Hill the chances of an ALS unit arriving to your call in eight minutes or less is 10 percent.”
Keashan said the county is open to hearing about how Virtua is improving ALS service on behalf of Camden County residents.
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