MedStar breaks ground on its new home

Posted Friday, Feb. 01, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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MedStar, the ambulance service for Fort Worth and 14 other area cities, makes nearly three times the trips it did when it moved to its current headquarters on Berry Street in 1986.

So MedStar Mobile Healthcare broke ground Friday on a 60,000-square-foot facility in southwest Fort Worth that will double its size.

The expansion will also make room for community health programs and a growing communications department that lets physicians monitor medical data even before the patient is loaded into an ambulance, spokesman Matt Zavadsky said.

The new headquarters will be at 2900 Alta Mere Drive, the former home of Nissan of Fort Worth, which moved in 2011.

It's expected to cost about $8 million and be completed by January.

"The investment in this property and locations is an investment in MedStar's future," Executive Director Doug Hooten said in a prepared release.

He said the facility should meet the organization's needs for 30 years.

MedStar responds to about 112,000 calls a year, up from about 40,000 in 1986, Zavadsky said.

It has 350 employees, mostly paramedics, and operates 55 ambulances on an annual budget of about $33 million.

"We outgrew the original facility about 10 years ago," Zavadsky said.

All operations -- from vehicle maintenance to dispatch to administration -- are housed at the current building at 511 E. Berry St., and the same will be true at the new location, he said.

"The big difference is the new facility allows us to expand our communications center," which takes 911 calls and includes a nurse triage program, he said.

The triage program, begun last year, transfers nonemergencies to a registered nurse who can evaluate a caller's condition and recommend appropriate measures.

MedStar also operates a community health program aimed at reducing the use of emergency services by patients who make repeated 911 calls.

Patients' medical data can be loaded into a health information exchange and handled by a nurse or physician in the appropriate setting.

The programs are designed to reduce unneeded ambulance trips. MedStar bills patients $1,500 for a trip to the hospital, but lower payments from Medicare and other payers, along with uncompensated services for the uninsured, bring average reimbursement to $385.

Jim Fuquay, 817-390-7552

Twitter: @jimfuquay

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