Caldwell County EMS Stops Non-Emergency Transports From Caldwell UNC

CALDWELL CO., N.C. — Caldwell County EMS has stopped non-emergency transports from Caldwell UNC Health Care to other medical facilities.

Officials say this change comes as calls for non-emergency transports increases and services at Caldwell UNC decrease.

“The reduction of services at Caldwell UNC is putting patients at risk and costing taxpayers money,” said Caldwell County Manager Donald Duncan. “When we accept optional, routine inter-facility transports, it jeopardizes patient health and adversely impacts the ability of EMS personal to provide emergency response to the rest of the community.”

Officials say hospitals may ask for non-emergency transfer between medical facilities, but they cannot require EMS to facilitate inter-facility transfer.

“The hospital, and hospital system, has more resources — politically, financially and personnel-wise — than the EMS system, and we would like to establish a partnership rather than the facility attempt to shift their responsibility to our EMS system and other healthcare facilities.” said Caldwell County Emergency Services Chief Dino DiBernardi.

In 2021, officials say nearly 70 percent of patients were transported to Caldwell while a little over 30 percent were taken to other medical facilities.

In addition to taking EMS crews out of service for extended periods of time, officials say non-emergency transports between facilities cost the county tax dollars for fuel, wear and tear on ambulances, and personnel.

“Without the hospital reimbursing for the non-emergency transports provided by EMS, those costs are transferred to the patient, and when unpaid, to the taxpayers,” said Duncan.

Officials say Caldwell County has attempted to reach UNC Health Care leadership multiple times without success.

This has forced the county to make the decision to stop non-emergency transports from the hospital.

Officials say EMS will continue to take patients facing life-threatening illness from Caldwell UNC to other facilities.