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More EMS runs going to Ashland, not Ironton

Despite the opening of an emergency room outside of Ironton, St Mary’s Medical Center-Ironton Campus apparently is not the hospital of choice by the majority of those using the Lawrence County EMS.

In 2012 St. Mary’s in Huntington, West Virginia, opened up the Ironton facility that provides emergency room care, lab services and family care doctors.

Yet for calendar year 2015, of the five major hospital facilities, the EMS made the fewest runs to the Ironton Campus. That figure is 681 of 8,457 runs or 8 percent.

The hospital having the most runs is Ashland-based King’s Daughters Medical Center with 2,971 or 35 percent of the runs.

Most times the EMS will transport a patient according to the patron’s choice of facility, according to EMS director Buddy Fry.

Even though the Ironton hospital is the closest for a majority of the county, a patient for the most part can determine where he or she wants to be transported.

But there are certain restrictions on patient choice.

“It is only if the person is dying, that he is not going to live to get there (to go to the facility of choice,)” Fry said.

The second highest runs for 2015 went to St. Mary’s in Huntington.

Part of that is because the county is zoned as to medical facility.

“We have it divided,” Fry said “If you are down this end of the county from Hanging Rock to South Point, you go either to Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital, King’s Daughters or St. Mary’s-Ironton. If you live up on the other end you go to St. Mary’s in Huntington or Cabell. We wouldn’t take somebody from Miller to King’s Daughters.”

One of the reasons for that is the county’s liability insurance company is against that.

“Our insurance company doesn’t want us to haul somebody for 30 miles,” Fry said. “You have less chance of having a wreck (going to the nearer facility) or having them die on you.”

If a patient lives in the Symmes Valley area or in the South Point triangle, it is a toss up of which facilities are offered to that individual.

Also, if the patient needs care from a trauma center he only has two choices: St. Mary’s or Cabell in Huntington where the two facilities trade off daily.

Cabell came in with second smallest at 11.9 percent or 1,013. OLBH had 1,177 runs or 13.9 percent.

“It is the patient’s choice within those zones,” Fry said.