Towns, hospital weigh ambulance options

Posted Nov. 16, 2008, at 9:28 p.m.
Last modified March 20, 2011, at 6:03 a.m.

HARTLAND, Maine — At a regional meeting last week among officials from Hartland, St. Albans and Palmyra and representatives of the Sebasticook Valley Hospital Ambulance service, the biggest concern appeared to be where the ambulance would be housed in the future.

SVH is paying to rent a house in Hartland, providing not only a location for the ambulance but also a place for responders — both paid staff and volunteers — to sleep. The Hartland-based ambulance is one of two staffed by SVH and is funded through a stipend from each of the three communities.

The other ambulance is housed at the hospital in Pittsfield.

But the Hartland rent is expensive and SVH officials are looking for an alternative. One option could be housing the ambulance in Pittsfield.

“If it was housed in Pittsfield, it would take 25 minutes — on a good day — for the ambulance to reach some of our residents,” St. Albans Town Manager Rhonda Stark said Friday.

Stark said the meeting was productive and the officials looked at three options: putting a trailer at the existing Hartland Fire Station; renovating the old fire station in Hartland; and putting an addition on the new fire station.

“But there are no funds,” Stark added.

Palmyra Selectman Mike Cray said his town’s concern was “to make sure the ambulance is available as quickly as possible. Housing is a big issue and ideally, we feel it should remain where it is, in Hartland.”

He said that the recent meeting was productive and that SVH “appears resolved to keep the ambulance in Hartland.”

Cray said some medical reimbursements are due to the service and that those funds could be used to purchase a trailer or other appropriate housing for staff and volunteers.

“The meeting put everyone on the same page and there was a lot of cooperation between the towns,” he said.

Although the Hartland-based ambulance was once the Hartland-St. Albans Ambulance and owned by the two towns, the service was transferred to SVH in 2007.

For the two years before that, the hospital had been managing the service, providing billing and scheduling, and hiring a director and two employees.

When the service was transferred to SVH, each of the three towns agreed to pay an equal annual stipend, and the hospital promised that the ambulance would remain housed at Hartland.

According to minutes of the meeting, Hartland originally agreed to renovate the existing fire station by building a second story for sleeping quarters.

Hartland officials at last week’s meeting, however, said they underestimated just how much the renovations would cost as well as how high utilities would be.

Updates on the all the options will be presented at the group’s next meeting at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 3, at the St. Albans town hall.

bdnpittsfield@verizon.net

487-3187

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