The city of Clinton will likely serve as a backup to Mercy Medical Center despite pleas from a Clinton city councilman to respect the committee process.
The Clinton City Council Committee of the Whole forwarded a measure to the next council meeting that would make the city a backup ambulance service for Mercy Medical Center. Council members passed the issue 4-2, with John Rowland, at-large, and Paul Gassman, Ward 4, voting “no.” Maggie Klaes, Ward 1, was absent from the meeting.
Rowland wanted support from the council in not starting a precedent regarding council members putting defeated topics on the Committee of the Whole agenda. During an Internal Operations Committee meeting Thursday, the issue was voted down 2 to 1 by Gassman and Rowland.
At-Large Councilwoman Jennifer Graf, who provided the lone “yes” vote, wanted the entire council to have a chance to decide, so she pulled out a piece of paper, and wrote a request to make the issue appear at Tuesday’s meeting.
Under city rules, any council member can request any issue to appear on the Committee of the Whole agenda.
“The mayor has trusted us by giving us committee assignments,” Rowland said. “I think Jennifer’s approach is wrong. Every time there is a 2 to 1 vote, I don’t want it to drag over to the committee of the whole.”
But Rowland’s argument didn’t resonate with council members, and even generated a resounding “yes” vote from Bev Hermann, Ward 3.
Rowland continued his stance against the city providing outside services, while also calling cost estimates “fuzzy math.” Andrew McGovern, emergency medical services and training director with the Clinton Fire Department, presented a cost analysis that showed the total cost to the city would be $181.55 for a transfer to the Quad-Cities, and $314.60 for a transfer to Iowa City.
The city would be reimbursed for its travel through insurance claims. Clinton Fire Chief Mike Brown assured council members that the city would still have full coverage for city services.
“The city would use a backup ambulance for Mercy,” Brown said. “We have used Mercy as a backup for years. We have had mutual aid agreements with them.”
If the city did not provide the service, which normally amounts to a few times a year, patients at Mercy Medical Center would either wait for an ambulance, wait for weather to clear up or be placed in a helicopter for travel.