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Council hears alternative plans to EMS integration

St. Croix EMS proposed four staffing models as alternatives to a potential integration with Hudson Hospital at the Common Council meeting Tuesday. (file photo)

HUDSON—St. Croix EMS is asking the Hudson Common Council to consider four new staffing models as an alternative to a service transfer that could potentially cost 24 emergency medical technicians their jobs.

The move would merge EMS services with HealthPartners and Hudson Hospital, a system that uses a two-paramedic model with no EMTs.

EMS staff spoke on the potential integration at last week's council meeting and asked to present alternative models.

The current model employs four paramedics, who work 36 hours per week and are paid by the shift. Finance Officer Brenda Malinowski said Hudon's municipal contribution per-capita in 2017 was $14, about half the state average.

Malinowski joined EMS Chief Brandon Lyskett at Tuesday's council meeting to outline three proposals:

•Model 1:Nine paramedics and nine EMTs would work full time. Workweeks for both teams would jump from 36 hours to 48 hours, and staff would be paid by the hour rather than per-shift.

Lyskett said this plan would guarantee 24-hour staffing every day and shrink response times.

The model, he said, could also help with recruitment.

"It's going to be a career move versus a job, because these are really benefitting positions," he told the council. "This is a long-term solution, not a short-term fix."

The price tag, however, could dissuade council members.

The plan is estimated to more than double Hudson's municipal contribution from $190,000 in 2017 to $541,000 in 2018, or $39.25 per capita. By 2022, the plan would require a $522,000 contribution.The city's total contribution would rack up to about $2.7 million over five years.

Council Member Tom McCormick, who represents District 3, said the plan was likely "unaffordable." Lysett agreed, saying that he realized the option was "not cost-effective."

•Model 2: Nine paramedics would work full time with 18 part-time EMTs. The four current paramedics would increase their workweek from 36 hours to 48 hours.

St. Croix EMS would hire five additional paramedics in 2018 for a total of nine full-time paramedics.

The model is expected to increase the per-capita municipal contributions from $14 in 2017 to the state average of $29 over five years.

•Model 3: Like Model 2, the EMS would hire an additional 5 paramedics, but would stagger the hiring process over five years. A full-time paramedic would be added in 2018, with an additional hire each year until 2022 for a total of nine paramedics.

EMTs would be paid by the shift rather than by the hour.

The plan would increase the per-capita municipal contribution to $19.25 in 2018, with a $2 increase each year.

•Model 4: No additional paramedics would be hired, but the four current paramedics would increase their workweek from 36 hours to 48 hours in 2018. This model would increase per capita municipal contributions to $15.50, plus an additional dollar each year.

Lyskett called the option "short-term" and said it would not address excessive work hours or recover funding for the Ward Avenue fire station remodeling.

"The only pro we could identify was it might help recruit because of the hourly wage being better," he said.

Consideration

No decision was made at Tuesday's meeting, but Lyskett said that he would prefer the third model, which he said would eventually achieve the same goes as the first model.

Council Member Randy Morrissette, who represents District 2, agreed.

"I'm not going to support a sale or transfer at this point," he said. "We have options in front of us, and I'm comfortable that option three would probably work best for our partners."

Hudson Mayor Rich O'Connor questioned how municipal partners felt about the third model.

"I would most accurately describe it as conflicting. ..." McCormick said. "I think it would be difficult for the town of hudson and village of North Hudson long-term to make this work because of their per-capita limits."

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