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Ambulance reports increase in overdoses

Service now collecting more funds through billing than taxes

By Jeremy D. Wells

Carter County Times

The summer months are bringing more cardiac and respiratory complaints, emergency ambulance director Rick Loperfido told the ambulance board last week. But it’s also bringing an increase in overdose calls. Loperfido said that calls for accidental drug overdoses, which had been on a downward trend over the last few months, have rebounded. 

“We have seen an increase in calls for overdoses,” Loperfido said. 

While it’s too early to know if they’ll continue to rise, Loperfido said he hopes it’s an aberration rather than a trend.  

Callers reporting a COVID infection have also been on the rise, he said, but they haven’t really resulted in any issues or concerns. In most cases, he said, they’re simply being responsible by informing responders of a current or recent COVID diagnosis or exposure. 

In other news Loperfido gave an update on the status of trucks, noting that one truck was out for repairs because of a hole in a radiator caused by a screwdriver. At some point, Loperfido said, one of the various technicians working on the truck had dropped a screwdriver into the engine and – either through oversight or negligence – left it there. It was apparently fine there for a while, until it bounced around, hit the cooling fan, and was knocked into the radiator, where it caused a hole. 

The truck has been repaired by multiple shops, and a roadside assistance service over the past several months, Loperfido said, and there is no way of knowing who left the screwdriver under the hood of the truck. 

“We’ve had three different shops service it, and one roadside service, so we’re not sure who’s responsible,” he said. 

Loperfido also reported that the service has run into an issue with Rowan County refusing transports back to Carter County. Patients at St. Claire who need rides back home to Carter County after being discharged are not being serviced by Rowan County ambulances, he said. Instead the patients have to wait until a Carter County ambulance is available – either during a lull in activity or after transporting a patient to the same hospital. It’s an issue that he knows have troubled some families, whose relatives have had long waits to get home after being discharged. But, Loperfido noted, the emergency ambulance service has to balance emergency calls with transport requests. Emergency calls, he said, are always going to take precedence.  

Valerie Nolan noted during her financial report that, with the new billing company the ambulance service is utilizing, they are now bringing in more money from billing than they are in tax revenue from the county, and important step in financial stability for them. 

In the last 13 months, Nolan reported, patient revenue has increased by more than $440,000 and they ended the last fiscal year with $60,485.16 more in income than budgeted for. While payroll is still consuming a significant chunk of that income, at just over 73 percent and more than $4,000 over budget for the month of June, and $113,000 over budget for the year, the billable income is up for that period too. The ambulance service brought in a total of $1,256,343.82 in tax revenue last year, and just under $2 million – $1,968,990.74 – in patient revenue. That’s even with monthly write-offs of several thousand dollars for charity applications. In June, for instance, the charity application write-offs came to $5,473.02 for deceased patients, Nolan noted.  

Contact the writer at editor@cartercountytimes.com



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