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La Pine Fire District, St. Charles and La Pine Community Health Center resolve court fight over transport billing

KTVZ file

La PINE, Ore. (KTVZ) -- The La Pine Rural Fire Protection District, St. Charles Health System, and La Pine Community Health Center jointly announced Thursday that they have decided to resolve and dismiss their ongoing lawsuits over the billing of health care providers for transport services.

Here's their jointly issued news release:

The three entities have come together to resolve this matter amicably, emphasizing their commitment to serving the community's best interests and strengthening collaborative efforts to ensure high-quality health care and emergency response services for the residents of La Pine and its surrounding communities.

The dispute in question arose from a disagreement related to the medical transport of patients by LPRFPD from La Pine health care providers, and the adoption of several ordinances which allowed LPRFD to bill LCHC and St. Charles for such transports.

All parties involved understand the importance of maintaining strong relationships and ensuring that resources are allocated efficiently to support the health and safety of the community. As such, LCHC, St. Charles and LPRFPD have engaged in productive discussions to seek a resolution that will benefit the community that all parties are committed to serve. 

LPRFPD, recently under new leadership, expressed its dedication to serving the community.

Board Chair Michael Vietzke, speaking on behalf of the district’s board of directors, stated, " We understand and value the crucial functions that both emergency services and health care fulfill within our community. We are dedicated to a shared mission of upholding the highest standard of care and ensuring the welfare of all residents within our district. Our focus is on what is best for those we swore to protect, which is why the new LPRFPD board and district administration took the first step to reach out to St. Charles to find a mutual agreement that is beneficial for all."

LPRFPD has begun the process to repeal Ordinance #2021-01, the last remaining ordinance that allowed them to bill St. Charles and LCHC for transports from their health centers to the emergency department.

In addition to agreeing to dismiss the lawsuits, St. Charles and LCHC have agreed to an ongoing collaboration with LPRFPD with the goal of identifying solutions to health care and emergency service challenges in the region. The health centers will provide data, support, expertise, and leverage their relationships with community partners.

"St. Charles remains committed to the health and safety of the La Pine community and surrounding areas," said Dr. Mark Hallett, chief clinical officer for St. Charles Health System. "We believe that working collaboratively and in good faith is the best way to achieve this goal. We are thankful to have resolved this matter and know that this mutual agreement will strengthen our partnership with the La Pine Rural Fire Protection District."

Courtney Ignazzitto, Communications Manager at LCHC, stated, “We are big advocates for collaboration between health care providers, first responders and those who provide wellness-related resources. Wraparound care really depends on those relationships, so we are very pleased with this outcome. We look forward to working more closely with LPRFPD to ensure a smooth transition of care for our patients and to assist in the strategic planning of health care resources for our area.”

Article Topic Follows: La Pine

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