Mt. Pleasant Medic 10 plans community open house
By A.J. Panian
Published: Wednesday, April 3, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
As the new station manager for Mt. Pleasant Medic 10, Mike Oplinger said he and the rest of the staff wish to set the record straight on what the borough's emergency medical service is all about.
To that end, Oplinger is helping to coordinate a community open house tentatively slated for May 11 at the facility's headquarters at 100 E. Main St. in the borough.
“We'd like to invite the public to come and meet the staff that will be serving them when they call 911,” said Oplinger, 25, a borough resident who was appointed to Medic 10's managerial post by borough council on Feb. 4 in tandem with director Rob Govern and assistant director Al Dawson.
The free event — scheduled to take place from noon to 3 p.m. — will offer those attending the chance to observe the inner workings of Medic 10, a nonprofit division of the borough.
“It's just like a home to us for 24 hour (shifts),” Oplinger said.
The Medic 10 headquarters are equipped with a complete living area, kitchen, showers and a fitness room, Oplinger said.
The space is designed to best prepare its staff of 15 employees, which includes state-certified allied health professionals, paramedics and emergency medical technicians, to respond to local medical emergencies as they arise, Oplinger said.
“The times we're not out answering calls, we're here focusing on furthering our education, completing patient charts, cleaning and reviewing the inventory,” Oplinger said.
Medic 10 averages 190 to 200 emergency calls per month, or nearly seven calls per day, so the staff's down time is minimal, Oplinger said.
“We have a pretty quick turnaround time,” Oplinger said.
Services provided by Medic 10 include advanced life support and basic life support emergency transportation to area hospitals including branches of Excela Health System and Highlands Hospital in Connellsville.
Medic 10's coverage area includes the borough, portions of Mt. Pleasant Township northeast of the borough, portions of East Huntingdon to the south and to the west of the borough, and the northern half of Bullskin including Hammondville and Bear Rocks.
The agency was founded in 1976.
Those currently running Medic 10 benefit from a 37-year tradition established by previous members, all of whom labored for decades on a strictly volunteer basis, Oplinger said.
“We're very fortunate as compared with other ambulance companies. It's because of the people who have been here before us,” Oplinger said. “We have state-of-the-art equipment.”
Such equipment includes three state-licensed, advanced life support ambulances; a Chevrolet Trailblazer paramedic response vehicle; three Stryker-brand power stretchers; and several mechanized “stair chairs” for multi-level patient transport.
“I don't think the public is well-aware of what we have to offer,” Oplinger said.
Rumors and uncertainty regarding the status of Medic 10 have swirled since early 2011, when the service was switched from an all-volunteer operation to one manned 24/7 by the current paid staff.
The need for the change arose with the establishment of more stringent laws and requirements dictating how emergency medical response services must be rendered, said Jeff Landy, the borough's manager.
“It's really an evolution of the industry,” Landy said. “For us to stay ahead of the curve, we needed to make these changes. In some cases, we were legally obligated to make these changes through HIPAA (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996).”
Medic 10 employees are not paid with borough dollars, said Jerry Lucia, the borough's mayor, volunteer fire chief and emergency response coordinator.
Payroll for the Medic 10 staff is currently administered by Southpointe Staffing of Canonsburg, Oplinger said.
Allegheny General Hospital — the service's medical command facility — provides Medic 10 with free medical supplies, emergency medications, free oxygen and continuing educational opportunities, Oplinger said.
Speclin Inc. of Scottdale — Medic 10's third-party billing company — transmits billing for services rendered to agencies like Medicare or to insurance companies, Lucia said. Speclin Inc. also collects Medic 10 annual service subscription fees and the company performs all maintenance of Medic 10 vehicles, Oplinger said.
The purpose of the open house is to give the public a forum to find out about any and all changes Medic 10 has recently undergone, Lucia said.
“We want people to come and ask us questions so we can properly explain the manner in which we operate and the priority we place on best serving our subscribers,” Lucia said. “If they have to pick up a phone and dial 911, they want to know their ambulance service personnel and have a better idea about the treatment they're going to receive.”
The Medic 10 subscription drive for 2013 began recently with the mailing of applications to those residing within its service area.
The fee costs $30 per Mt. Pleasant Borough residential household, up from $25 in 2012, and $35 per non-borough residential household located within the Medic 10 service area, up from $30 last year.
The reason for the subscription fee hike is due largely to increases in daily operating costs for supplies and manpower, Lucia said.
“Also, the amount of money recovered through Medicare for use of the ambulances and the amount of reimbursements from insurance companies have both decreased,” Lucia said.
A service subscription fee of $100 has been enacted this year for businesses throughout the Medic 10 coverage area.
The new subscription period will run through February 2014.
Medic 10 service-area residents who did not receive a subscription form or residents new to the area wishing to subscribe should call 724-547-4620.
A.J. Panian is an editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-547-5722 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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