A local rescue squad and the parent company of Cumberland County’s only hospital are working on a plan that both sides say could result in better and less costly service.

The board of directors of both South Jersey Healthcare and the Millville Rescue Squad said in a statement they are seeking an “expanded relationship” involving their transportation agreement in place since 1998.

Discussions are ongoing, and officials with both sides said there are still many issues to resolve.

Millville Rescue Squad Chief Executive Officer John Redden said those discussions involve both agencies sharing various resources. That may help both better cope with changing regulatory requirements, he said.

Both agencies may be able to “negotiate more effectively with payers and government agencies,” Redden said.

South Jersey Healthcare and the rescue squad saw “significant growth and expansion” since their current agreement was executed, said Wayne Schiffner, the health-care agency’s vice president and chief strategy officer.

“We feel that an expanded partnership could not only benefit our organizations, but also the entire region,” Schiffner said.

South Jersey Healthcare operates South Jersey Regional Medical Center in Vineland.

According to the rescue squad’s website, the squad had 4,070 patient transports in 2010. The bulk of those transports — 3,858 — involved the medical center. The 2010 statistics are the latest available numbers.

This is not South Jersey Healthcare’s first attempt to deal with what its officials called a changing health-care regulatory system.

South Jersey Health System is the parent company of South Jersey Healthcare.

In November, the Bridgeton-based South Jersey Health System and the Gloucester County-based Underwood Memorial Health System completed their merger proceedings.

Officials said the merger would allow the new health system to increase the number of outpatient care sites, build stronger relationships with government agencies regarding funding initiatives and health-care policies, and give patients access to a larger number of health-care providers.

South Jersey Health System is Cumberland County’s largest private-sector employer. The agency had 2,850 workers as of June 2011, according to the latest available numbers from county government records.

Contact Thomas Barlas:

609-226-9197