Dana Solomon wants to do everything he can to make sure that independent ambulance companies continue to exist in California.
For almost 30 years, Solomon – the chief executive officer of Manteca District Ambulance – has been a part of California Ambulance Association. He just recently took over the reins of the organization as its chairman for the first time.
As the shape of the healthcare landscape changes, Solomon says he’s looking forward to having a chance to shape the policies that affect first-responder operations that face dire circumstances.
“Every independent ambulance company ought to be able to have the ability to offer their services,” Solomon said. “We need to be able to pay good wages and benefits so we don’t constantly lose the operations to fire departments.
“I’m looking forward for the chance to shape the future of the industry that I know and love.”
Unlike communities such as Ripon that operate an ambulance service as part of their fire department – and San Joaquin County which outsources their operations to American Medical Response – Manteca receives their emergency response services from MDA as well as the Manteca Fire Department.
As an independent agency, EMTs and paramedics from MDA work side-by-side with firefighters, and the non-profit agency maintains a uniquely positive relationship with those that they work with. It is something Solomon hopes he can share with others in California to improve the overall relationship among first-response units.
But the future isn’t exactly bright for those calling the shots.
While California continues to sink further and further into debt, programs like Medi-Cal are becoming a burden for companies like MDA and agencies throughout the state to deal with – recouping only 25 percent of their overall expenses.
Solomon is afraid that if the trend continues, smaller companies will be forced out of business and the overall quality pre-hospital care that people receive will be greatly diminished.
“It’s something that’s affecting everybody in California, and it’s definitely going to change the ways things are handled in the future,” he said. “When those tones go off, we can’t call somebody and ask them what kind of insurance they have – it’s not like a private practice doctor that can decide that he doesn’t want to help someone because he knows he isn’t going to be paid.
“The safety net underneath that system is wearing thin, and pre-hospital care is something that is going to be adversely affected.”
Since taking over the reins, Solomon is gearing up for a year of legislative visits and expanded lobbying efforts in Sacramento to educate lawmakers on the state of pre-hospital care in California and what can be done to improve it.
Through the use of a lobbyist, the CAA hopes to open up even more doors in the State Capital and improve the relationships with elected officials in districts throughout California.
It’s going to be a long road, he says, but hopefully one that will have an ending reward that will inadvertently be passed back on the residents and communities the represented agencies serve.
“This is a line of work that is near and dear to all of our hearts,” Solomon said of the CAA’s governing board. “Helping people is what we’ve chosen do for the majority of our lives, and it’s something that we’re hoping to be able to continue.”