The Dallas County Board of Supervisors, during their regular meeting on Tuesday, took on discussion about a call that Dallas County EMS received regarding a 24-year-old male patient who had had a seizure and was taken to Methodist Hospital downtown Des Moines.
Denise and Jay Hartz, the parents of the patient and owners of the Hotel Pattee in Perry, were at the meeting to discuss their allegations that their son was taken to the wrong hospital, as Methodist was not within their HMO network.
Mike Thomason, director of operations for Dallas County EMS, said that Dallas County Hospital would technically have been the "most appropriate" hospital but that they requested to be taken to a downtown hospital since it was the patient's second seizure.
Thomason said his crew members told him that there was some confusion as to which downtown hospital they were to go to, but that Denise finally settled on Methodist, but at the meeting, Denise said that they requested Mercy, which would have been in their HMO network.
"I specifically said Mercy Downtown," Denise said. "I never said Methodist. We have never ever been to Methodist, none of our doctors are at Methodist."
She said that the problem now is that their son has still not seen a neurologist, due to scheduling conflicts with their family doctors.
Jay was also concerned about how long it took for the ambulance to get there and he said that a note from some guests who were dining at the hotel when the ambulance arrived echoed those concerns.
The other concern that the notes expressed was that when the EMS crew got there, they walked into the building instead of running.
Thomason mentioned that their response time to the scene was four minutes, which is well under the national average and that their crew doesn't run onto the scenes because they need to stay calm and controlled when handling emergency situations.
"In EMS, we don't sprint to every call," Thomason said. "We need to be able to arrive on scene, walk in with calm demeanor."
Jay mentioned that he was anxious during the situation and Thomason pointed to that as a reason they walk onto scenes as well.
"We try to take control of a situation and drop anxiety and try to manage a situation," Thomason said. "If we come in panting, out of breath or high anxiety ourselves, we're (not really able to) de-escalate a situation and manage the situation."
He did apologize that they didn't run onto the scene but also said that he will never expect them to as he wants them to remain calm.
Jay said that the crew was "nonchalant" and laughing and joking when they got out of the ambulance.
However, he wanted them to know that he loves the EMS and the services they do but just wanted them to know about the issues he had seen.
"I'm just telling you that, as a business owner, when I get a complaint, I investigate it," Jay said. "We're here to give you a second insight perspective. I expect you to believe your employees, but, to me, this was kind of reassuring that it was not just my own emotions that were getting involved."
He said he agreed with the sentiment of de-escalating a situation.
"We're just here to present you information from our side. You can do with it what you like," Jay said. "We hope that the information we're providing might help give you some insight to help improve your services. That's all we're here to do."
When the question of a transfer to Mercy was questioned, Thomason said that once they arrive at a hospital, the patient has to see a doctor so a transfer was out of the question by that time.
The other thing that was in question was the billing for the transport by ambulance. Thomason said that the bill was filed to their insurance company on Dec. 2, but as of that morning, had not yet heard a ruling from them, so no action was taken on an adjustment to the bill at the meeting.