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Ascension Health Inc.'s Michigan operation is joining Detroit-based McLaren Health Care and Henry Ford Health System to create the largest mobile medical service partnership of its kind in the state, the organization said Monday.

St. Louis-based Ascension's partnership with nonprofit Medstar Ambulance will allow the Clinton Township-based mobile health-care provider to better serve its patients, to develop new treatment protocols and new care services with expertise from three major health care systems and offer flight transportation to and within the nonprofit systems, Medstar CEO Kolby Miller said.

"We're going to delve into health-care integration as a mobile health-care provider," he said, "that is working with three health care systems to provide efficiency to clinical programs where there wasn't the volume or efficiency to support them in the past." 

The deal's value was not disclosed.

What is now McLaren Macomb hospital and Henry Ford Macomb Hospital formed Medstar 26 years ago as a way for the hospitals to help provide quality emergency medical services in communities that struggled to afford it.

Medstar contracts with city governments in Genesee, Ingham, Lapeer, Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties to provide emergency ambulance services. It also has expanded its clinical scope to mobile preventative health measures such as check-ins for patients at risk of stopping medicine treatments or those that need their heart rhythms monitored every day before seeing a clinical specialist. Medstar hopes to increase the frequency of such home visits and preventative services in the new partnership, Miller said.

"As the world turns to more population health management and taking responsibility of the patients outside the service," Miller said, "it'll offer the chance for health system clinical leaders to work together and develop together clinical protocols and programs that improve the care of patients before and after their hospital visits."

Ascension's addition expands Medstar's service to 37 hospitals across the state. The 110,000 service requests to which Medstar responded last year is expected to grow to up to 175,000 in the partnership's first full year of implementation in 2020, Miller said.

That volume also is allowing Medstar to partner with LifeFlight of Michigan, an inter-hospital and scene transport helicopter operated by Arizona-based PHI Air Medical. Ascension's addition will give Medstar sufficient volume to help LifeFlight, which is rebranding to Medstar LifeFight, continue its American Eurocopter EC-135 operations in Michigan. LifeFlight already provides service to Southfield-based Beaumont Health.

Medstar also is investing $7 million into adding 50 new vehicles and corresponding medical supplies and communications equipment. That will bring the organization's fleet to 130 ambulances and 25 support vehicles.

The service currently has 520 team members, which will grow by at least 200 more, Miller said. The organization has a medical education center for training emergency medical services personnel in Genesee and Macomb, which it will expand throughout its service area. Interested applicants can find more information at medstarambulance.org.

Medstar's new board of directors will include an administrative member, a physician or clinical leader and a community representative chosen by each of the health systems. All will have representation on the nonprofit's clinical oversight body, too.

"Working with MedStar’s mobile care services and skilled paramedic providers," Jean Meyer, chief operating officer of Ascension Michigan, said in a statement, "we are developing new and innovative ways of delivering seamless care to our patients, both before and after a hospital stay – aiding in healing and paving a long-lasting road to good health."

bnoble@detroitnews.com

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