County Judge Chad Adams called a special meeting of the Ellis County Commissioners Court on Thursday to discuss emergency medical services in the county.
Presently, the county — and most of the entities within it — contracts with East Texas Medical Center-Emergency Medical Services. While the county’s contract with East Texas expires in about a year, the emergency services provider’s contract with the city of Red Oak is up this year as are a number of its contracts with other cities.
At the invitation of the county, representatives of three emergency services vendors appeared before the court.
Speaking for East Texas, Tony Myers said the amount of money the county will have to spend on a subsidy for his agency will decrease markedly. Due to a new system enacted about 90 days ago, the funds the county would normally spend to reimburse East Texas for unpaid service bills would be eligible for matching funds through Medicare and Medicaid. The cut-off date for entry into the new program is Aug. 31.
With the new funding mechanism, East Texas would replace its ambulance which runs for 12 hours per day from Monday through Friday each week with a full-time, 24 hours per day ambulance, bringing the total serving the county up to six.
American Medical Response and CareFlite provided the commissioners with brief presentations about their companies, but neither offered a proposal.
Speaking for AMR, Jeff McCollum said the company is the nation’s largest ambulance service with more than 18,000 employees. AMR operates non-emergency medical services in Dallas, San Antonio, Houston and Austin and operates emergency services in Hunt, Collin and Milam counties, he said.
A for-profit entity, AMR could include a 90 percent response time performance guarantee in a contract, McCollum said, noting the company would pay fines for falling below a specific average response time on more than 10 percent of calls.
CareFlite president and CEO Jim Swartz also provided commissioners with a presentation regarding his company and the services it provides.
A 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, CareFlite is sponsored by a number of hospital systems, including Baylor, Methodist, Harris Methodist, Presbyterian, JPS, Arlington Memorial and Parkland, Swartz said, adding that the company is based in Grand Prairie and only operates in North Texas.
The company has 14 air and ground bases in and around the Metroplex and, if chosen as Ellis County’s vendor, would base dispatch operations for the county within its boundaries, Swartz said.
All CareFlite contracts are performance-based, Swartz said, adding that “CareFlite is desirous of this contract.”