Trend Is Leading To Longer Ambulance Rides, Forcing EMTs To Start Treatment

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Medical professionals in Westchester County were warning the public to brace for impact Wednesday night, as hospital closings and longer ambulance rides are apparently in our future.

New York United Hospital Medical Center closed in 2006, and is one of a dozen medical centers in New York State to close in the past decade.

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The continuing trend is lengthening ambulance rides and forcing emergency crews to start treatment during the ride in.

“This machine will give me the ability to treat the patient the way they would be treated, as far as medications go,” emergency medical technician Jon Silvestri explained to CBS 2’s Lou Young.

Treatment in the ambulance is a necessity, CBS 2 was told, because the average ambulance ride will be longer as time goes on. And industry sources said hospital closings have only just begun.

“It is a tsunami,” said Bill Harrington of the Westchester County Association. “There will be consolidation of medical providers in this county, and it will be a function of market forces, and approval by the federal and state governments.”

With health care reform now taking effect, experts said the market forces that closed United Hospital are accelerating, making it tougher for individual institutions to stand alone. Thus, shuttered hospitals could be the wave of the future.

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“The government, through all of the legislation, is going to take about $100 million out of this hospital — and we’re a $400 million organization,” said Jon Schandler, chief executive officer of White Plains Hospital.

In Westchester, hospitals and medical groups are reacting by setting up partnerships, as health care shifts to medical facilities without full hospital staffing.

“I think you’re going to see more and more people never going into a hospital,” said Dr. Simeon Schwartz of WestMed Medical Group.

But when people do have to go to a hospital, it will likely take longer.

Sixteen hospitals remained open as of April 10 in Westchester County – part of a $10 billion industry that is the county’s largest employer.

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