Ambulance service likely headed to AllinaLearning the Apple Valley-Lakeville-Farmington Ambulance Service will likely be outsourced to Allina Medical Transportation brought little surprise to ALF paramedics this week.
By: Michelle Leonard, The Farmington Independent
Learning the Apple Valley-Lakeville-Farmington Ambulance Service will likely be outsourced to Allina Medical Transportation brought little surprise to ALF paramedics this week.
Allina has promised to retain all of the ALF paramedics, but some current ALF employees are upset by the decision. Finding out about the change via the Internet was a little hard to swallow.
“We expected the recommendation from the executive management committee to be to outsource,” said paramedic and union representative Karen Adams. “They were looking at it for a reason.”
With three proposals to consider — one from Allina, one from North Memorial and one from the ALF union — the ALF executive management committee had pledged to make a decision in late October. The decision didn’t come until early November. A press release Monday announced the EMC’s decision to pursue an agreement with Allina.
A week ago, the union membership — made up of the community’s 27 paramedics — thought their proposal was still under consideration, Adams said. They were to have a meeting last Thursday, but received word from Farmington’s human resource director Brenda Wendlandt that unless they had new information to present, a meeting was not necessary, Adams said.
On Monday, the paramedics learned their jobs would be outsourced.
“As is typical, we found it on the ALF web site yesterday,” Adams said Tuesday. “But that’s the way it’s been all along. The communication with us has been very minimal. They did not negotiate with us in good faith. It appears they made their decisions long ago.”
Information on the ALF web site cites things like quality patient care, management and operations structure, medical direction, ambulance staffing capabilities, management expertise, education programs, technology and patient billings as attributes the EMC liked about the Allina service.
The agreement ensures ALF paramedics will be folded into Allina’s seniority scale for compensation and employment purposes.
“A great deal of care and effort was made to take care, first of all, of our residents in our communities,” said Farmington city administrator Peter Herlofsky, who serves as chairperson of the EMC. “Our other major concern was making sure our employees would be taken care of.”
If that is the case, Adams said, the paramedics were not kept in the loop. They have read through the material on the web site, but Adams said the contract analysis, the press releases and even the proposed memorandum of understanding with Allina Medical Transportation do not answer questions the paramedics have — things like whether they will be shuffled into other communities over time, how the change will affect their relationships with first responders like police and fire personnel and what kind of risk factors may be presented.
“Management really hasn’t been talking to us about the details. There’s nothing that tells us what Allina will offer us. It’s all been through the rumor mill,” she said. “We’re concerned about ourselves, but we’re also sincerely concerned about what this means to the community.”
Herlofsky says Adams’s argument is simply not true. Citing a meeting in mid-October, he said much of the information paramedics question was presented to their group.
“If they had listened to that information, they would have had those answers. We recognize some are not in agreement with what is being proposed, but I am going to say that we’re looking out for the best interests of the community,” he said.
A final decision
The proposed memorandum of understanding will go to the ALF Board of Directors at a 7 p.m. meeting Monday, Nov. 10 at Lakeville City Hall. The executive management committee is made up of administrators from each of the member cities. The board of directors includes one city council member from each city. Steve Wilson is Farmington’s council representative.
“Now we’ll see if the board listens to the public or if it listens to the EMC,” Adams said. “Right now, our hopes lie with our elected officials in each city.”