Mayor Stands Firm on Mutual-Aid Despite Plan to Reduce Calls

Despite a pilot program intended to reduce the burden on emergency calls in Providence, Mayor Polisena said it will not change his decision to deny Mutual Aid to the city.

Johnston Mayor Joseph Polisena said a proposal to reduce the burden on ambulances will not sway his decision to deny Providence Mutual Aid, reports the Johnston Sunrise.   

Earlier this month, a team of Rhode Island legislators, health care professionals, emergency responders discussed a pilot program that would divert people with behavioral, alcohol or substance abuse issues away from emergency rooms and into more appropriate places for treatment.  The Sobering Treatment Opportunity Program, or STOP, is intended to alleviate emergency rooms from repeat patients.

The proposal calls for transitional housing for up to 20 individuals as well as employment assistance and connections to sobriety programs and health care.

According to a statement from the State House, it is common for the same handful of intoxicated individuals, most of whom lack insurance, to be transported to emergency rooms by ambulance over and over, at a cost of about $500 per ambulance trip and $2,000 for a visit. Under STOP, it is estimated that transport in the van might cost about $80, and an about $200 for an overnight stay in the facility.

Polisena, a retired firefighter, told the Sunrise said that he is skeptical that the program would be effective.  “Whether they're habitual callers or not, that's what they pay taxes for,” Polisena told the paper.  

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