Resolution Sought Over MedStar Billing of Rescue Squads

HOLLYWOOD, Md. (February 13, 2020)—For years MedStar St. Mary's Hospital, formerly St. Mary's Hospital, provided medical supplies to local rescue squads at no cost but in 2014 the hospital administration, according to county rescue officials, began providing billing statements to local rescue squads for the supplies.

However, rescue squads were informed that they did not have to pay the bills and that the statements were being used to track how many supplies were being given out. But now, rescue officials say, the hospital is holding them responsible for paying them back.

A letter from the Lexington Park Rescue Squad's Chief Mark Miller to the county's Emergency Services Board Secretary Shawn Davidson, requested an open discussion on the issue at this week's Feb. 12 meeting.

"This request is from our Board of Directors and directly involves the approximately $110,000 of debt that currently shows against LPVRS financial statement and audit due to this issue," Miller wrote. "We understand the reasons the county wants us to close out the audit, but we believe that action incumbers LPVRS with officially accepting the liability of this new debt."

The supplies, which do not involve narcotics but items such as bandages and tourniquets, have been distributed under what was the community benefit program and went out to all the county rescue squads.

Steve Walker, director of the Department of Emergency Services, said the issues affects all rescue squads in St. Mary's. "Basically, this is several years of billing," Walker said.

Davidson, who is also the county emergency medical services chief, said he was confidant some kind of understanding could be reached with the hospital administration.

"It's trying to get some assurance in writing that we won't be held liable for these tremendous debts," Davidson said. "We have to get something worked out. "There's no rescue squad in the county that could absorb that amount of debt."

Dr. Stephen Michaels, Chief Operating Officer at MedStar St. Mary's, said the hospital leadership and the rescue squads are in continued talks about how to deal with the problem.

"At some point there was a need and we felt it was wise to bring accountability to the situation regarding who was receiving medical supplies and how they were being used," Michaels told The County Times. "I'm not aware of an arrangement where the medical supplies were now and forever would be free."

Michaels said the hospital would continue to support the rescue squads while they worked out an agreement on how to proceed.

"There has been no decision on how this will be resolved," Michaels said. "It hasn't been negotiated.

"We are completely supportive of the EMS community; we're going to find a solution that makes sense to everyone."

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