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Thursday, April 24, 2014

‘Emergency medical services in CNMI need to be regulated’

Regulating an emerging emergency medical services industry has drawn support from the privately owned Saint Michael’s Medical Response, the Guam Department of Public Health and Social Services, and the House Committee on Judiciary and Governmental Operations, among other entities.

The JGO panel, chaired by Rep. Ralph Demapan (Cov-Saipan), is now recommending the passage of Sen. Jovita Taimanao’s (Ind-Rota) Senate Bill 17-76, Senate Substitute 1 in the lower chamber.

The bill establishes, maintains, and regulates an emergency medical services system that includes all public and private emergency medical services personnel, emergency medical and non-emergency transport vehicles, equipment, facilities, communication systems, and training facilities.

James Gillan, director of Guam’s DPHSS, said this bill will directly benefit the Pacific region of EMS partners by promoting a coordinated and more efficient EMS response system for all the islands of the Marianas.

“Most importantly, the quality of health care will improve for the people of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana islands through the passage of Senate Bill 17-76,” Gillan said in a letter to House JGO Committee’s Demapan.

House Speaker Eli Cabrera (R-Saipan) separately said yesterday he might be calling a session next week, so SB 17-76, SS1 might be acted on by members.

Joseph C. Santos, president of Saint Michael’s Medical Response, said he is in full support of the bill. Saint Michael’s Medical Response is the first and only Medicare certified private ambulance company in the CNMI.

“Passing SB 17-76, SS1 will provide for a uniform set of standards that will guarantee that both private and public ambulance services are fully compliant with government and industry standards, especially in terms of scope of practice required of any ambulance service system. With strict compliance to both standards, the CNMI community is ensured of the best ambulance service system, as is common throughout the United States,” Santos told Demapan.

Santos, however, said he can only support the regulation if it is placed under the auspices of the CNMI Health Care Professional Licensing Board “on the strengths of its non-biased nature and impartiality.”

“Regulations protect the legitimacy of my company and, more importantly, protect the community from less scrupulous entities from providing sub-standard care. Simply put, regulation of both private and public ambulances, as well as the EMS is good for our community; especially for the women, children, and marginalized individuals of our Commonwealth,” Santos added.

If signed into law, the measure will authorize the Health Care Professions Licensing Board to promulgate and regulate rules for the implementation of an EMS system, and the standards for certification and recertification of emergency medical service facilities, vehicles, personnel, equipment, supplies and communications systems engaged in providing emergency or non-emergency medical services.

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