County Might Find New Ambulance Provider in 2 Years

Santa Clara County will ride out the contract with its dysfunctional ambulance service provider before deciding whether to renew it or go out to bid for a replacement.

Just after the county entered into a five-year contract with Rural/Metro in 2011, the company lost patient reports. Over the next couple years, the company missed monthly response times, violating the county’s terms and racking up a pile of fines in the process.

“The county’s relationship with Rural Metro has been challenging in a number of ways since the contract was initiated …,” County Executive Jeff Smith writes in his memo to the Board of Supervisors.

San Jose Inside also learned that the FBI was looking into the EMT provider’s political activity.

“After three years of experience working with this contract, we now understand both its strengths and weaknesses,” Smith states.

Supervisors will vote this week on whether to start looking for alternate EMT providers in time for the contract’s end in summer of 2016.

There’s a good chance the county will have to pay much more if it chooses another company. Right now, the county pays much less than neighboring jurisdictions for ambulance service thanks to a low-bid contract from Rural/Metro that goes against the company’s own interest. The average rate is 51 percent higher than what the county pays.

Rural/Metro is asking to increase its rates in the meantime since a higher-than-expected number of uninsured patients led to a projected loss of $8.5 million this year.

More from the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors agenda for Sept. 23, 2014:

  • Climate change, drought and concentration of water sources have led to the highest level of West Nile Virus ever recorded in the county, according to vector control officials.
  • The Healthy Kids Foundation may get a $115,847 grant as part of a program that expands health coverage for infants. The money will pay for two part-time office assistants and overhead costs to implement the Baby Gateway Program.
  • The county wants to sell one of its surplus properties, a vacant park-and-ride on the southeast corner of Almaden Expressway and Camden Avenue in San Jose.

WHAT: Board of Supervisors meets
WHEN: 9am Tuesday
WHERE: County Government Center, 70 W. Hedding St., San Jose
INFO: Clerk of the Board, 408.299.5001

Jennifer Wadsworth is the former news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.

One Comment

  1. Haven’t we as a society seen enough of ” for profit ” pre hospital emergency medical service? Between the vast services required by the counties and insurance reimbursment limitations there is no honest money in this “industry”.

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