County taking over EMS

Decision made by Muir, Williams

Greene County will spend the next six months transitioning to a county-based ambulance service. The decision was made by county supervisors John Muir and Peter Bardole and sheriff Jack Williams at a recent meeting. Muir briefed the supervisors of their decision at the supervisors’ Thursday meeting.The future of emergency medical services has been discussed for a year since Dennis Morlan, who for longer than three decades has contracted with the county to provide the service, told the supervisors he needed to retire at the end of the fiscal year, last June 30. The supervisors did not come up with another plan or provider and Dennis and his wife Marcia, who handles the insurance and billing, agreed to continue until another provider was found.

Morlan hadn’t increased what he charged the county for his services for many years. That was one factor making it very difficult to hire and retain staff, and making the business not viable for a new owner. In past discussions the supervisors were reluctant to go to a county-based service because that would make the EMS staff county employees, increasing payroll and benefits significantly.

“A while back Pete [Bardole] and I came to the conclusion that privately-owned isn’t the direction we want to go,” Muir said Thursday. Muir said Dallas and Carroll counties both have county-based EMS and that seems to be a trend due to increased state regulations.

An interim EMS director will function under the sheriff’s office. Muir asked Williams to be ready next Monday with a recommendation of who the county should hire for the position. That person will handle the transition from contracting with the Morlans to the county operating the service. A permanent department head will be hired effective July 1. Then EMS will operate as a separate department within the county.

Greene County EMS currently has a staff of six fulltime equivalents. The county expects to staff EMS at the same level except for the insurance/billing position. That may be outsourced because of the expertise needed. Current employees will need to apply for a job with the county and then be hired. Muir specified no one will be “grandfathered” in.

Greene County Medical Center is willing to enter into a 28E agreement with the county regarding EMS. The supervisors will meet with mayors of county towns to ask for financial assistance for EMS.

A budget for EMS hasn’t been prepared. Williams will get an idea of total expenses from Dallas and Carroll counties, but Muir said he and Williams don’t know what revenue they can expect.

“People ask how we’re going to pay for it. I really don’t know at this point, but we have to, because it’s something we need to be a thriving community,” Muir said.

Williams has an unfilled position in his budget that can be filled by the interim director. That will save the county from “recreating the wheel” midway through the budget year, he said.

The Dec. 31 agenda will include a resolution to hire an interim director. The supervisors do not expect to have discussion or action to move to county-based EMS on the agenda.

Print or share article:Print this page
Email this to someone
Tweet about this on Twitter
Share on Facebook