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New EMS treat-in-place law takes effect

West Virginia Press Association

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – A bill signed into law by Gov. Jim Justice is expected to provide much needed relief to West Virginians in need of emergency services and first responders this month. The new “treat-in-place” protocols take effect on May 1, 2024 and will allow for patients with qualifying conditions to be treated in the comfort of their own home. It is a move the governor said will help alleviate long wait times in emergency rooms and keep ambulances from being tied up at the hospital. 

“This is victory for not only the countless lives that will be saved, but the EMS providers they depend on to answer their call,” said Gov. Justice, who signed the bill into law on March 9, 2024.

The measure also gives EMS companies the ability to bill for certain services provided in the home that do not require an ambulance transport to the hospital. West Virginia Department of Health Secretary Sherri A. Young, DO, MBA, FAAFP, who oversees the state’s Office of Emergency Medical Services, said the initiative will free up EMS units to respond faster to emergencies. 

“Too often, we hear of hospitals on red diversion and patients being diverted to other facilities. These are critical minutes this law gives back to the patient. One 911 call that goes unanswered is one call too many and I’m proud to be a part of this effort that will help make sure there are ambulances available for anyone who has to make that call.” 

The Department of Health’s Office of Emergency Medical Services Director Joseph Ratliff said Medicaid will also be able to bill for services rendered. “This gives EMS units across the state the added support they need to operate which will in turn save lives.” OEMS has developed the education for the protocols and will send them out through the state system to the agency training officers. The training officers educated providers on the protocols prior to the May 1st start date. 

To view the protocols, visit
https://www.wvoems.org/media/461634/treatment%20in%20place%20guideline.pdf

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