February 22, 2012Crawford County Emergency Medical Services Director John Gott reported at the board of commissioners' meeting on Jan. 31 in English that collections are up and overtime is down.
Gott, hired by the commissioners last March, said the EMS collected about $522,000 in bill payments in 2011. He previously said that collections in 2010 totaled about $125,000 and about $136,000 in 2009.
Last year's collections were up thanks in part to an outside billing company having been hired. The company is paid a percentage of the amount collected, which, for 2011, was about $20,000, meaning the county netted about $500,000, Gott said.
"So, we still collected a tremendous amount of money," he said. "We came out really, really well."
Gott added that the department is in the process of training its emergency medical technicians on how to submit paperless run sheets that are submitted by computer, which will speed up the billing process.
"Right now, when a run sheet gets written, it may take me up to 10 days to get it to the billing company for them to bill it," he said. "Once we go with the paperless software, it will go instantly to the billing company, as soon as the run sheet's written, so they can bill it out within 24 hours, which really increases our turnaround time in getting our money back."
Gott also said that since the EMS added a second 24-hour ambulance crew at the station in English, the amount of overtime worked by full-time EMTs has dropped substantially.
"The first pay cycle, I saw the overtime go down from nearly 200 hours average to 37 hours," he said.
He noted that that pay cycle included a holiday, so it will take a couple of additional cycles to get a more accurate number, but "the number of times we're seeing the full-time staff get overtime is really decreasing."
Gott said that having a second ambulance crew has helped decrease response times, since an on-call crew no longer has to first drive to the station, but housing that crew near Carefree would better serve residents in the southern part of the county.
One possibility, he said, is the Crawford County Tourism Center, which has office space as well as a basement for crew quarters.
"The problem with that is there is no facility to house the ambulance to keep it out of the cold and the extreme temperatures," Gott said.
Erecting a portable carport and using a heater to keep the engines warm could work, he said.
Gott said he also has been approached by Leavenworth officials about providing space in a town building.
"Their proposal is, if we will pay for the materials to construct this garage (to house the ambulances), they will supply all the labor to build it and they would let us use it rent-free for as long as we wanted," said Gott, who estimated that materials for a basic structure would cost less than $10,000.
However, if the EMS were to relocate to the medical facility that the county has proposed be built, the improvements would revert to the town of Leavenworth, he said.
"So, I think that's an option that might work well. It's not exactly 100 percent where, in my opinion, would be the best location for us permanently," he said. "Ideally, I would like to see us up around the interchange at (Interstate 64), but it's far better than what we have now."
James Schultz, president of the board, said both are good options that the county should pursue. District 2 Commissioner Randy Gilmore agreed, but said he favors the Leavenworth option since the ambulances would be in a closed facility.
Gott said another option he would like to look at is to see if Todd-Dickey Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, Mulzer Crushed Stone and Jasper Engines and Transmissions are willing to donate to the project, since having an ambulance stationed in the Carefree/Leavenworth area would benefit them.
District 1 Commissioner Daniel Crecelius said county officials would be meeting with Jasper Engines, and plans for a county medical facility continue to move along.
"That thing is coming together pretty good. We've even got some private entities that maybe are going to get involved. … They want to expedite this thing," he said.
(Crecelius reported at the Feb. 14 county council meeting that Jasper Engines has offered, at no cost to the county, space for ambulances as well as EMTs at the company's facility at the industrial park north of I-64 at Carefree.)
—The commissioners announced that their next regular meeting will be Tuesday, Feb. 28, the same evening as a joint meeting with the county council. The commissioners will meet in closed executive session at 4 p.m. at the judicial complex in English and then go into their public meeting at 5:30. They will recess at 7 to meet with the council and reconvene their regular meeting afterward.