By Jeremy D. Wells
Carter County Times
Carter County Emergency Ambulance Service can breathe a little easier, at least for the time being. That’s because King’s Daughters Medical Center has withdrawn their certificate of need request. That request, if granted, would have allowed the healthcare system to place two ambulances in Carter County, a move the ambulance board worried could hurt them financially.
Ambulance service executive director Rick Loperfido told the board on Monday that he had been watching the state’s certificate of need (CON) newsletter and noticed that the CON request had been deferred until June.
When the June report came it showed the request as active once again, and scheduled to be heard in September. Because the service had only 15 days to respond, Loperfido contacted the service’s legal counsel immediately to begin that process.
However after sending a copy of the newsletter to their attorney, he said, she contacted him back with good news – she had received a copy of a letter from KDMC to the board, asking them to withdraw their application for a CON.
Loperfido told the board he was “cautiously happy” over KDMC’s decision to pull the request.
“But,” he continued, “I didn’t feel the application fit the need and request anyway, and we had the option to contest.”
He said he would continue to follow the newsletter, so he could be aware if KDMC decided to take up their request again.
In his monthly report to the board Loperfido noted they finished May with roughly the same number of runs as they had in the previous year. Total runs for May were 503, which puts the year to date total at 2424.
“This keeps us at 117 runs above last year’s year-to-date total,” Loperfido said.
He said the service was seeing a trend away from COVID calls, and instead seeing more calls about cardiac and respiratory distress.
He also said the service is looking at options for billing automotive insurance for responses to automobile accidents where the individuals involved refuse transport after being checked out.
“This will hopefully help us in recovering more reimbursements for dry runs,” Loperfido said.
Loperfido also reported on issues with the service’s vehicles and noted they had purchased a 2013 Ford Explorer at the state’s surplus property warehouse.
He said there were also plans to convert a pickup truck they currently own to a First Response Vehicle. Such a vehicle, he explained, would allow the ambulance service to make better use of their resources. For instance, when the service doesn’t have enough paramedics to ride along with all ambulances, he said, the move would allow crews to respond, stabilize patients, and then stay with them until the paramedic arrived, if it was necessary.
Loperfido also reported that the service had made a deposit on their new oxygen refill system, and are waiting for $150,000 promised by the fiscal court for the remainder of the purchase.
Finally, the director concluded his report with information on a planned inservice training with Dr. Spears. That inservice will focus on determining the closest available, and appropriate, facility for transport.
Board member Carl Stegall did have some questions about the purchase of the truck, and other vehicles, and how much money the director could spend without board approval. Loperfido noted that board president John Brooks was with him on the trip to the surplus warehouse where they purchased the pickup truck, but that he wasn’t aware of any limits as long as funds were in the budget. In an emergency spending situation, Brooks added, the director wouldn’t need board approval anyway. Such an emergency situation would be one where the county didn’t have enough ambulances running for staff to serve the county. In those cases, he said, it was imperative that the director be able to find a replacement ambulance to meet the county’s emergency transport needs.
The other ambulances in question, they noted, had the price refunded by the dealer after they experienced mechanical issues with an ambulance they’d recently purchased. Valerie Nolan explained that the refunded purchase amount was then used to purchase the other ambulance in question. She also told Stegall she would look at the meeting minutes for more information on those items that were discussed and approved.
In her report, Nolan noted that fuel costs for the ambulance service were at $9,688.88 – an increase of around $2,000 over the same period last year.
Loperfido also discussed repair costs, and closed the meeting with a special thanks to Marcus Murray, at Murray’s Autoworks, for his prompt attention and assistance with vehicle maintenance and upkeep as well.
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