Commissioners voted 5-0 to approve a resolution that will increase an hourly fee charged to hospitals by Hernando County Fire and Emergency Services (HCFES).
Called “wall time” by the industry, it is the time that an ambulance waits at the hospital to transfer care of the patient to hospital staff. This fee has been $30 per hour and will now be increased to an hourly rate of $204. These fees will be charted in quarter-hour increments after the first 30 minutes. This fee is not supposed to have an impact on patients transported by ambulance.
The fees collected will provide additional revenue to Ambulance Services. The measure also anticipates an incentive for area hospitals to reduce wait times. Commissioner Jerry Campbell said, “Sometimes, these big corporations, the only way you get their attention is by giving them an incentive.”
In January 2022, The Hernando Sun learned of hospital overcrowding and staff shortages caused by a COVID-19 surge. Then, local resident Doug Davis reported an 18-minute response time when he called for his wife, who was suffering a seizure.
With no reports of local hospitals being overwhelmed by COVID-19 admissions, ongoing staffing shortages are the suspected cause of current prolonged wait times. The problem extends nationwide.