DECATUR — HSHS St. Mary’s Hospital and Decatur Ambulance Service have asked city leaders to further investigate whether it should allow a second ambulance service to operate within the city.

A hearing officer appointed by the city signed off on Aug. 27 on Champaign-based Arrow Ambulance LLC's license application to become the second ambulance service to operate in Decatur. Per city code, any party “aggrieved” by the report’s conclusion had 10 days to file a request for review with the city council clerk.

With the request, the council will make a determination “in the best interest” of the community, according to city code.

Decatur Ambulance Service currently is the only ambulance service in the city. The longtime family-operated service was acquired in June by Hospital Sisters Health System, the parent company of HSHS St. Mary’s Hospital.

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"Leaders and colleagues at HSHS St. Mary’s Hospital care very deeply about the families that live in Decatur and the surrounding communities," said EJ Kuiper, interim president and CEO at St. Mary’s, said in a news release Thursday morning. "That is why we have made a very serious investment over a substantial amount of time to this community. We hope this investment doesn’t get short-changed in this debate about licensing another ambulance service to operate with no limit in Decatur."

According to St. Mary's, the request for review stated the finding from the hearing officer was based on “erroneous information” provided by Arrow and Decatur Memorial Hospital during an Aug. 16 public hearing on the issue.

Ted Clark, the emergency medical director at DMH, testified during the hearing that there has been a 12 percent increase in the number of critically injured patients being transported there. He said that sometimes there is a delay in the availability of emergency transport vehicles, which in turn creates a greater danger to the patient.

“This public hearing was the first time DMH has highlighted these types of issues to DAS in their nearly 60 years of operation,” Dr. Ken Johnson, chief medical officer at HSHS and an emergency room doctor, said in the news release. “We are committed to working in good faith with all providers in the Decatur area to resolve any issues or concerns about the quality of our emergency response care.”

Contact Ryan Voyles at (217) 421-7985. Follow him on Twitter: @RVVoyles