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[CI MedEvac] Air ambulance closes, lack of Govt support

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[CI MedEvac] Air ambulance closes, lack of Govt support

Unread post by bimjim » Fri Aug 19, 2016

http://www.caymanreporter.com/2016/08/1 ... t-support/

[CI MedEvac] Private ambulance company closes, alleges lack of Govt support
Austin Harrison
Friday, August 19, 2016

On June 25 2011, former Cayman Islands Auditor General Alistair Swarbrick released a Public Interest Report on the management of air ambulance services entitled – the Management of Overseas Medical Services. The Office of the Auditor General (OAG) report highlighted a number of concerns about how air ambulance services are managed, including “the unlicensed operation of a ground handling service for air ambulances operating at Owen Roberts International Airport.”

The objective of the report was intended to inform the Legislative Assembly about the provision of air ambulance services procured by Cayman Islands National Insurance Company (CINICO) and the licensing environment in the Cayman Islands, as well as to determine whether appropriate management practices are in place to ensure that these services are provided in a cost-effective manner and that the regulatory agency for such services, the Cayman Islands Airport Authority (CIAA), is performing effectively. CINICO paid out some US$814,623 for 71 emergency air evacuations in the fiscal year to 30 June 2012, said the OAG.

The OAG also found that the Health Services Authority, which initiates air ambulance transfers by coordinating with medical authorities and the case management company, has no documented procedures for how it deals with the provision of air ambulance services, ‘resulting in uncertainty and lack of consistency for how this work is to be carried out’.

In conclusion, the report found that operations relating to the provision, costs and oversight of air ambulance services have not been managed effectively, resulting in uncertain value-for-money for services solicited through the Air Ambulance Broker. Mr Swarbrick wrote: “We believe that the practice of utilising the services of a non-contracted Air Ambulance Broker, if continued, represents an unmanaged risk to the Government in the event of a catastrophic incident because of the lack of prudent management of public resources.”

In April 2014, Cayman Islands MedEvac Ltd., a Cayman-based air ambulance service that sought to work in partnership with the Cayman Islands Health Services Authority, was launched. CEO William Bodden, who in addition to running the company is also a Captain for the national flag carrier Cayman Airways, told local media in April 2014 that the company had entered into talks to lease a Lear Jet, fitted out with emergency medical equipment which would complement the ground ambulance already purchased by the company.

However, the air ambulance concept “never left the ground” due to what Mr Bodden described as the “cost-prohibitive environment” that existed. He said, “Another air ambulance provider entered the market at approximately the same time we made our announcement and there simply wasn’t enough room for two private sector service providers”.

However that still left a gap in ground ambulance services. At the time he said, based on his own Freedom of Information (FOI) research conducted over a 6-month period, “the average ground ambulance response time was 27-minutes, and in one extreme trauma emergency that response time was shown to be some 47-minutes”.

As such, Mr Bodden said he approached the Government, first under the previous Minister of Health Hon Osbourne Bodden, and proposed providing a private ground ambulance service that sought to relieve the Health Services Authority (HSA) of the non-medical emergency calls it received on an annual basis. This he said “would result in a reduced emergency response time for the HSA, bringing it more in line with the national average, while still benefiting the public.”

Those negotiations then expanded to include the Premier, Hon Alden McLaughlin when he took over the Ministry of Health responsibilities following a Cabinet restructuring exercise in 2015. Also included in those negotiations according to Mr Bodden were Chief Officer for the Ministry of Health, Jennifer Ahearn as well as former 911 Director, Brent Fraiser.

Regrettably, those negotiations have stalled and now “based on the government’s inability or unwillingness to negotiate acceptable terms, on-island infrastructure that could have been used to benefit the public will never be used,” Mr Bodden said, adding that based on vehicle and equipment depreciation costs, the company is now seeking to sell off their assets and close their operations.

Attempts to contact the Minister and Ministry of Health for comment by press time were unsuccessful.

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