Chester River Health Foundation supports pilot program for dedicated ambulance in Chestertown

CHESTERTOWN — The University of Maryland Chester River Health Foundation, which supports patient care programs at UM Shore Medical Center at Chestertown, recently provided $372,00 to fund a pilot program that provides a dedicated ambulance for the transfer of non-critical patients between hospitals, emergency centers and tertiary care (rehab and skilled nursing) facilities on the Eastern Shore.

The pilot involves a dedicated ambulance from Butler Medical Transport, stationed at UM Shore Medical Center at Chestertown.

Butler Medical Transport acquired Mid-Shore-based Best Care Ambulance in 2019.

According to Dylan Seese, senior operations manager for Butler, the ambulance completed its first transport within two hours of being put into service on May 1 — from the Chestertown hospital to a nursing home with a patient who had been discharged from the emergency department. 

He said during the first month of service, the ambulance made 144 trips, 20% more than anticipated, and traveled 5,000 miles, more than 700 miles more than expected. 

According to a news release from University of Maryland Shore Regional Health, more than 1,000 Kent County patients require transfer each year, with an average round-trip time between three and four hours.

“About 70% of the transfers involve the need for a higher level of care or a specialty service not offered in our Chestertown hospital,” Sandy Prochaska, MSN, RN, the acute care and emergency services nurse manager in Chestertown, said in the news release.

“We also transfer patients from other UM SRH facilities to Chestertown for inpatient care,” she added.

In the past, the wait for ambulance transport has made it difficult to ensure timely patient discharges and prompt admission of new patients coming from area emergency departments, according to LuAnn Brady, University of Maryland Shore Regional Health senior vice president and chief operating officer.

Brady said the new ambulance service based in Chestertown serves patients who need timely transport to a tertiary care facility or to another hospital for specialized care, and also those who are ready to be discharged but transportation is an issue.

The first month of service saw the average wait time for ambulance transfer reduced from around six hours to within the hour, according to Brady.

“I cannot think of a more effective or important way for the Chester River Health Foundation to use the funds entrusted to us for the benefit of the people we serve, as well as for our clinical staff, than to support this essential patient care project,” foundation board Chair Libby Woolever said in the news release.

Ken Kozel, president and CEO of UM Shore Regional Health, said in a written statement: “Staffed around the clock seven days a week, this new transportation resource is not just a service but a significant contributor to improving patient care. It has led to significantly shorter wait times for discharge and transfer from UM Shore Medical Center at Chestertown and also allows for shorter wait times for those patients coming to Chestertown from other Shore Regional Health facilities.”

He thanked the Chester River Health Foundation for its generous and timely support of the pilot project and for “ongoing interest in advancing health care programs and services that benefit our patients and clinical care teams around the region, underscoring the value and significance of this initiative.”

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UM Chester River Health Foundation raises funds for patient care services and equipment at UM Shore Medical Center at Chestertown.

The hospital is part of the University of Maryland Shore Regional Health network, which is a member organization of the University of Maryland Medical System.

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One Response

  1. What a great benefit to our community! Reducing wait time for transport can only help patients.

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