City of Hudson seeking outside proposals for EMS solutions
The city of Hudson will be looking outward for a way to stabilize St. Croix EMS in the midst of departing municipal partners and staffing turnovers.
The Hudson Common Council on Monday night approved a request for proposals from other entities to contract, in whole or in part, for EMS services and provide potential solutions.
"I think there are other options out there to help manage St. Croix EMS," Council Member Bill Alms said.
Alms, who serves as the city's representative on the EMS Commission, proposed the request, prompted by the city's EMS partners stating their intention to end their rolling contract with the service, and town of Hudson's desire to leave the contract early.
Alms said the service has been hit by the resignation of Chief Brandon Lyksett and the termination of Interim Chief Joe Elkin, and is experiencing a shortage of paramedics.
St. Croix EMS Medical Director Aarn Burnett wrote an update to the EMS Commission last week expressing concern about the staffing shortages at the paramedic level. Burnett said several paramedics have stepped up working overtime to fill the schedule, and he is concerned about the sustainability of their work hours and possible sleep deprivation.
Council Member Sarah Atkins Hoggatt was the sole vote against the request for proposals, saying it was the first step to privatizing EMS.
She said the request is another of many mixed messages sent to St. Croix EMS.
"We keep saying they have problems. It's not they, they are us, we are them," Atkins Hoggatt said.
Alms said the proposal specifically called for contracting in whole or in part.
"We're not saying that we're privatizing and we're not suggesting selling EMS services, we're suggesting looking at other providers to see what they can offer," he said.
Council Member Jim Webber said the proposals could be something as simple as an administration piece taken over by people who already have the resources.
"There's a whole gamut of possibilities out here," he said, and request for proposals shows the city these possibilities.
The call for proposals is not binding, Alms said, and the city could choose not to accept any of them.
"We're all going to be making that decision together," he said.
Atkins Hoggatt said she would then want city staff and representatives working with St. Croix EMS to develop its proposal, as the service does not have the administrative departments that other entities making proposals have.
"I would just want to affirm to them that we'll be there to help them with that, each of us individually and city staff," Atkins Hoggatt said.
Alms said he would want the partners invited to be a part of the process.
He expects proposals could be submitted within 30 days, and then the city could move forward with an interview process with each proposal to learn more about the options.
Mayor Rich O'Connor said he agreed with having public safety chiefs as subject matter experts for the interview process, but did not want to put them in a position of being part of the decision. Alms agreed the committee members could be determined at a later date.
With the request for proposals approved, the council then chose not to appoint an interim chief as this process moves forward. The motion passed 4-2, with Council Members Paul Deziel and Atkins Hoggatt voting no.
Operations Supervisor Josh Olson will fill the duties of running EMS in the meantime, and after a closed session the council approved a stipend of $500 a week for these additional duties.
The council held two individual closed sessions to discuss discuss the EMS partners' non renewal of their contract and to discuss a grievance filed by Joe Elkin regarding his termination from the city.
The council voted to authorize the city attorney to reaffirm its decision to terminate Elkin's employment, and to prepare a settlement offer to Elkin.
No decision was made from the closed session on EMS partners.