Pointing to data released Tuesday by Cooper University Health Care, Gov. Chris Christie said the hospital network’s first full year of handling all of Camden’s emergency medical services has been a success.Pointing to data released Tuesday by Cooper University Health Care, Gov. Chris Christie said the hospital network’s first full year of handling all of Camden’s emergency medical services has been a success.
“I’m here first and foremost to say thank you to all of you,” Christie said to emergency staff at an event at Cooper’s EMS ambulance bay in Camden.
According to Cooper, EMS responded to over 90 percent of advanced life support calls within an eight-minute window, 10 percent more calls than in 2015, when competitor Virtua handled emergency services in the city.
In 2015, Virtua only met the eight-minute benchmark on roughly 70 percent of all advanced life support calls, Cooper said.
“When Cooper University Health Care took over EMS services on Jan. 2, 2016, we promised the residents of the city of Camden that we would improve response times, services and community involvement,” said South Jersey powerbroker George Norcross, the Cooper board of trustees chairman. “We have delivered on those promises by responding to more calls, reducing response times and building stronger relationships with the community we have been serving since 1887.”
Norcross added that “simply put, Cooper EMS is providing more access to emergency services — quicker — for city residents.”
In July 2015, Christie signed a bill into law mandating that Level One trauma centers across the state be solely in charge of handling a host city’s emergency services. With Cooper’s designation as Camden’s only Level One trauma center, the hospital network effectively took over services from Virtua, which had been Camden’s EMS provider for decades.
A months-long legal battle for control of the city’s emergency services ensued, until the state Supreme Court upheld the law in a ruling last January.
“Let’s not sugarcoat this today,” Christie said. “This was a fight.”
Christie said it was “really heartening” to see Cooper fulfill its promise of being able to offer better and faster emergency care.
In a statement Tuesday, Virtua did not refute Cooper’s numbers, but noted that it “disagrees with the legislative process that changed the EMS system in Camden” and that the hospital network “continues to provide high-quality EMS services in Burlington and Camden counties.”
Virtua declined to comment on whether or not it saw a decrease in EMS admissions at its hospitals as a result of the shift to Cooper.
Tuesday’s event was also hailed by Christie, Norcross and Camden Mayor Dana Redd as yet another example of the city’s growth and revitalization over the past several years.
“This is certainly a tremendous time for Camden,” Redd said.
In introducing Christie, Norcross said, “There has been no other individual who has done more for the city of Camden.”
Norcross added that Christie’s renewed focus on battling drug addiction and increasing access to treatment is not only a major challenge currently in the state, but also noted that it “will be his greatest legacy.”
During his remarks, Christie called on Cooper, RWJBarnabas and other top health networks across the state to consider his challenge to not deny anyone seeking inpatient or outpatient drug rehabilitation services for the first six months.
“I hope I don’t have to do that by mandating,” Christie said.