10 April, 1986
Lifemobile set to return to Princeton Medical Center
By Sally Lane
After a month long battle, officials governing a countywide paramedics program agreed Thursday to return one of its three Mobile Intensive Care Units (MICU) to the Medical Center at Princeton.
As of April 21, the unit will be stationed full time at the hospital, said Betty Bonney, director of public relations for Helene Fuld Medical Center in Trenton. Lifemobiles, which carry advanced lifesaving equipment and paramedics to the scene of an emergency but do not transport patients, are run by the Trenton medical center for Mercer County.
Seeking more room for its crew and a central location, officials Moved the unit in question nearly a month ago from a Princeton location to the Prince-ton Junction Volunteer Fire Co. building in West Windsor. Prior to the move, the unit was stationed fir six weeks at the Valley Road administration building in Princeton.
Having been offered more space at the center, Helene Fuld officials agreed to return the unit to the hospital, Ms. Bonney said.
Instead of a “closer’, — the amount of space the paramedics originally had – they will have a 9-by-12 room in which to house their equipment and to relax when not on call, Ms. Bonney said.
The decision to return the unit to the center was also influenced by the discovery that Hamilton Township -where one of the lifemobiles is stationed — has its own full-time para-medic crew during the week, Ms. Bonney said.
The county lifemobile stationed in Mercerville, Hamilton Township, could be moved to the Windsors during the day if the call volume there made it necessary, Ms. Bonney said. The third lifemobile is stationed at the Helene Fuld.
The decision to return the unit to the medical center was also prompted by unfavorable response to its relocation, Ms. Bonney said. Fearing that the move would increase response time to emergencies on the west side of Route I , area officials protested the units relocation, asking that the unit he returned to the medical center.
Responding to unfavorable reaction to the relocation, the lifemobile was stationed at the medical center between II a.m. to 3 p.m. daily shortly after the move, Ms. Bonney said.
The move also prompted the threat of a lawsuit, after Hopewell Township officials learned that the lifemobile — which they were told would be stationed in Hopewell — had been stationed in Princeton instead.
Contending that Dr. L. Barry Ultan — the MICU program director – had promised to locate the unit in Hopewell Township, officials there threatened to sue Dr. Ultan after learning about the move.
Locating the unit in Hopewell was “discussed,” Dr. Ultan said, but was never “in granite.” The program director is scheduled to meet with Hopewell officials sometime in the next few weeks to discuss the “communication problem” he said.
In the meantime, Helene Fuld is seeking support for a fourth lifemobile, Ms. Bonney said. But if could take several months for the state Department of Health to approve the unit, a spokeswoman there has said.
Even if Helene Fuld was able to demonstrate a need for the unit, it could be turned down if the state cap — limiting the amount of money that can
be spent on MICU programs — has already been met, the spokeswoman said.
Happy that the unit will be returned to the medical center, Princeton Borough Mayor Barbara Sigmund recommended that the municipalities unite and support Helene Fuld in applying fur the unit — rather than squabble over where it will be located.
Stating that call volume for the lifemobiles had increased every year since the program began in 1977, Ms, Bonney said the hospital felt there was a “justifiable need” for a fourth unit.
“It would be great if the community supported the application,” Ms. Bonney said. “Nobody’s going to be satisfied until we have another vehicle.”