Happy New Year! UVES extends our warmest wishes that 2015 will be a healthy, prosperous and rewarding New Year for all!
2014 has been a year filled with many trials and tribulations. We have implemented new programs, grown modestly in volume, endured fiscal contractions, experienced local economic impacts, and begun planning upgrades for future infrastructure improvements.
In early 2014, UVES encountered severe slow-downs in cash flow, resulting in shortages ranging in excess of 24% of required funding for daily operations. While the shortages began late in 2013, the overall effects were not felt until the first quarter of the year.
Erratic as the only appropriate term to describe that which continues to be encountered, UVES was forced to review staffing and service levels. Through normal attrition, UVES reduced available unit hours to sustain future operations. The resulting decrease in immediately available resources produced a modest change from the total number of 9-1-1 responses UVES was able to handle, losing 2% of call volume year over year to our mutual aid partners.
By the third quarter of the year; albeit at lower reimbursement rates; cash flow stabilized and UVES was able to return some unit hours to our schedule in order to meet increasing demands that had been experienced through the summer months. While not able to return to previous staffing and service levels to date, the organization has seen a tremendous effort from all of our members in meeting the systems demands by increasing overall utilization and producing additional unit hours with volunteer member staffing and off-duty member response to calls held in Que.
While the staffing and service reductions might be perceived as a negative impact for the community, in evaluating our overall effectiveness UVES has become more efficient in our operations, ensuring we continue to meet benchmarks for our system.
During the second quarter of 2014, UVES implemented a community outreach program in collaboration with local CVS Pharmacies in the greater Broome County Region. Through the program, UVES implemented blood pressure screenings at the CVS Pharmacies, reaching in excess of 30 patients during the first few sessions. UVES continues to work on the relationship that has been fostered and anticipates expanding this outreach program in 2015.
UVES continued our Child Passenger Safety Seat Program, certifying an additional technician and providing installation and instruction to more than 30 parents and caregivers within the community. With the program, UVES also provided six new car seats within the Town of Union community during our inspection and fitting stations. The Child Passenger Safety Seat Program is in the second year of development, and will continue to grow as the program is being recognized with referrals from the Broome County Health Department.
UVES’ community training center for the American Heart Association recognized growth with a doubling of revenues. Through the work of our Deputy Director of Community Outreach, pivotal relationships have been developed with the local AHA offices, allowing for collaboration on CPR initiatives; CPR in schools legislation; and referrals for classes. While a significant amount of growth has been through the development of additional training sites in the community- more than 3,000 students instructed, UVES, as a training site, recognized an 88% increase in the number of students taught by a UVES instructor.
Through the year, our Deputy Director of Training continued to expand on our semi-annual skills requirements, improving the overall quality of the program for which UVES’ providers are expected to attend twice a year. The program exceeds minimum requirements of the Susquehanna Regional Medical Advisory Committee and continues to be the only program in the region exceeding the required standards.
Training and education for our members continued to be of high importance as UVES gained additional in-house instructors for Emergency Vehicle Operators Courses. UVES’ members received the additional instruction throughout the year, meeting a long standing goal of the training programs at UVES. The addition of in-house instructors has allowed our orientation program to grow as well by ensuring new members to UVES receive the program as a component of their new member orientation program.
UVES has invested in replacement equipment to serve our smallest patients through 2014, and added new assessment tools to the fleet to expand basic acquisition of vital signs. New Pediatric Broselow bags were purchased for replacement, and new thermometers were deployed to better assess temperatures of our patients and comply with assessments and mandates through the Department of Health for Ebola response.
Looking to improve the health and well-being of our members, UVES launched a healthy living initiative called the Walk for Wellness. Organized using an application created by the American Heart Association, UVES members walked more than 1 million steps throughout the year. The goal of the program was to provide a confidential platform for our members to track their success and meet best practice requirements to allow application for a HeartSafe workplace.
UVES launched a patient satisfaction survey program, randomizing our outreach to our patients and providing feedback on our continued performance. Surveys that have been returned continue to provide positive feedback of the performance of the EMS system in the Town of Union with more than 90% of our participants Agreeing/Strongly Agreeing with the high quality of care provided.
In June of 2014, UVES launched our second public appeal campaign in the Town of Union. The generosity of the community allowed UVES to receive more than $60,000 in donations, providing offset in recognized losses from patient care receivables.
In the fourth quarter of 2014, UVES was mandated through the Commissioner of the Department of Health in NYS to take specific measures in preparation and anticipation of potential responses to patients who may have contracted Ebola. Through the mandate, UVES invested in personal protective equipment which exceeded minimum standards and developed a response plan that has been tested with area hospitals and the Broome County Health Department. Training on the equipment is on-going, and the continued evolution of the Commissioners mandate will remain a priority through 2015.
In late December, UVES submitted our application to the Susquehanna Regional EMS Council to become recognized as a HEARTSafe Community workplace. In January of 2015, we are pleased to announce our work paid off, with accreditation gained and recognition of our health, safety and awareness initiatives for our members.
While much has been done in 2014 and the challenges have been unique, UVES continues to work on improving services for the community. 2015 will bring new programs and initiatives for the Town of Union Community, of which we will continue to build upon our success. With a constant focus on our Mission, Vision and Values, our members continue to provide high quality EMS, and will continue to do so with the unwavering support of our Community.