Supervisors discuss EMS, no conclusions reached

“There’s no easy answer” for assuring the county has ambulance service, county board of supervisors chair John Muir said Tuesday. The board discussed ambulance service for about 10 minutes but didn’t get closer to a solution.

“If there’s going to continue to be an ambulance service and it’s going to look like I think everyone wants it to look like, it’s going to cost us more. It’s going to cost citizens more,” Muir said.

For the past 32 years the county has had a service contract with Dennis Morlan to provide the service. The county owns the ambulances and the building and has paid Morlan $50,000 per year. That amount hasn’t increased in the entire 32 years. The supervisors learned what a good deal the county’s been getting when Morlan met with the board three weeks ago.

Morlan hopes to retire July 1, but has said he won’t unless knows adequate emergency medical services will be available to county residents.

Muir has learned that EMTs/paramedics are in demand and can earn $60,000 a year with benefits. Greene County EMS staff does not receive that level of pay and have no health insurance benefit.

Muir said he doesn’t think the county should carry the full cost, that the city of Jefferson should be part of the solution. He didn’t say if he’s talked with the city administrator or mayor.

Greene County Medical Center is interested in helping find a solution, but does not want to assume ambulance service because of Medicaid/Medicare reimbursement issues, Muir reported.

Morlan had named a current staff person who is interested in taking over the contract. The county supervisors would like to continue that business model, but being able to offer health insurance is part of the equation. “They would like to be county employees so they’d get the health insurance. I haven’t seen a way to do that,” Muir said.

Supervisor Dawn Rudolph suggested that more money going to EMS would allow the operator to find a group health insurance plan for employees.

In Fort Dodge, Trinity Medical Center (a UnityPoint hospital, like Greene County Medical Center), is discontinuing EMS. The Fort Dodge fire department is taking over that role. However, that fire department is a fulltime paid department, not a volunteer department like those in Greene County.

Carroll, Calhoun and Dallas counties provide EMS as a county operation, according to Muir. The supervisors haven’t yet gotten information about those services.

The supervisors came to no conclusions during their eight minute discussion.

Also at the supervisors May 29 meeting, county engineer Wade Weiss reported 12 blow-outs on county roads due to the extreme heat. He said the secondary roads crew would do the repair. He hopes to purchase portable traffic lights like those used by the DOT to stop traffic in construction zones. The traffic lights would eliminate the need for flaggers to stop traffic while crews work.

Weiss said he looked at the roads in Dana that were discussed at the supervisors’ May 21 meeting, and they’re in better condition than mayor Mandy Sims said. “There are way worse roads in the county,” according to Weiss. He said he’s looking for options regarding streets in Dana.

County zoning coordinator Chuck Wenthold reported wind turbine components will start being delivered to the Beaver Creek wind project this Friday. Construction crews will begin erecting turbines Monday.

The board held a public hearing on an amendment to the FY18 budget. No comments were heard. The board approved resolutions amending the budget and appropriating funds for the amended expenditures.

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