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Elyria officials begin review of LifeCare contract draft


ELYRIA — Before Mayor Holly Brinda presents LifeCare Ambulance Inc. with the city’s idea of what a future contract between the two entities should look like, a few questions have sprung up in the course of city officials reviewing a rough draft.

Law Director Scott Serazin said the questions — which were distributed in a memo he distributed to City Council on Monday — should spark more in-depth conversation on what the ultimate contract will be. They come from him as well as City Council members who brought questions to the law director after first glancing at the draft document earlier this month.

“I’m just trying to look at this from a different perspective,” he said. “In the past, the discussion always stops when it’s said that the city doesn’t pay anything for LifeCare’s services. But we have to ensure it’s a solid contract that looks at everything.”

The issue itself wasn’t discussed by City Council on Monday.

But Brinda said the questions — including concerns on how communication will work among LifeCare, the Elyria Fire Department and Lorain County 911, defining the service area of Elyria and whether the Elyria Police Department should be designated as first responders — are valid concerns and exactly the kind of input she wanted from Council.

“The intent in doing things this way is to have an open dialogue that hopefully puts everyone on the same page,” she said. “We’re trying to make sure all questions have been answered before we open up negotiations with LifeCare.”

Council President Mike Lotko, D-at large, said the discussion will likely take place in January, which paves the way for the contract to be finalized in the first part of the year.

LifeCare President Pete de la Porte said he has seen the draft contract, but hopes one he can take to his lawyer will come soon. He said he will reserve comment until Council has received answers to the questions and the city is ready to come to the table.

In the meantime, his company is operating under the old contract.

The new proposed document Brinda presented Dec. 2 did a good job of framing how Elyria sees the city fitting into emergency medicine.

It specifically outlined LifeCare as the primary provider of emergency medical services with the Elyria Fire Department taking on a reduced role as first responders.

In addition, it calls on LifeCare to meet response times set by the National Fire Protection Agency of arriving on scene 90 percent of the time within eight minutes after receiving 911 calls and shifts the main oversight of the contract’s compliance to the Joint Quality Assurance Board, which is made up of representatives from the city, LifeCare and EMH Healthcare or its successor.

Several of the questions Serazin said Council members asked dealt with the legalese of the document and pertain to how things would proceed if the contract was terminated for whatever reason.

“Shouldn’t there be a transitional provision rather than leave the citizens without any emergency services contract?” was one of the questions on the memo Serazin passed out. “Can the Fire Department cover the city? Should there be some clause to address this situation? Will 911 stop calling LifeCare?”

Brinda said her administrative counsel Ken Stumphauzer crafted the draft contract and will likely be the one to answer the questions at an upcoming meeting.

“We appreciate their input and are trying to wrap this up as quickly as possible,” she said.

Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or Follow her on Twitter @LisaRobersonCT.

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