Western Nebraska Observer - Observations all along the line - Kimball & the Southern Panhandle First

Kimball ambulance service questions answered

 


Much of the public is still uncertain about the future of the ambulance service in Kimball. Though a new contract has been signed, a new partnership made, the service can remain vastly unchanged according to Kimball County Commissioner Tim Nolting.

Following the steady five-year climb of property tax requirements needed for the county-run ambulance service, the board of commissioners sought an in-depth study of the service as well as viable alternatives.

The Paramedic Foundation was contacted by the Nebraska EMS & Training Program to conduct an assessment so a recommendation and options could be presented to the Kimball County Board of Commissioners, which was searching for a more cost-effective and efficient way to provide the service to Kimball County.

Kimball County has supported the Kimball Ambulance Service through property taxes since taking over the service in 2011. Additional support has come from the County’s general fund, using sales tax.

According to the report, Kimball County’s concern with the ambulance service comes from multiple directions, including declining property tax revenue as the population declines and the large decrease in sales tax funds for the fiscal year.

While the County’s concern is entirely cost-based, the report states that Kimball Health Services expressed concern over Kimball County Ambulance Service’s inability to make approximately 27 percent of the inter-facility transfers.

This inability to meet facility-to-facility transfer needs required Kimball Health Services to call in other, out-of-county ambulance services, causing delaying patient care that could potentially be detrimental to patient’s health.

These concerns, coupled with growing demands on the county board for oversight and education, led the Kimball County Board of Commissioners to entertain a proposal from Regional West Medical Center to oversee the local ambulance service.

The contract, which was signed and dated Dec. 6, 2016, outlines the responsibilities of the three partners, Kimball County, Kimball Health Services and Regional West Medical Center.

Kimball Health Services, who will employ all emergency responders, has asked each current emergency responder to continue with the service throughout and after this transition.

In part: Kimball County taxpayers will continue paying the remaining amount for the new ambulance - just more than $42,000 over the next five years.

Additionally, Kimball County will pay Kimball Health Services $48,000 annually for wages for ambulance personnel.

Kimball County will be responsible for any repairs to the ambulances that are in excess of $3,000 and will reimburse comprehensive and collision insurance costs to Regional West Medical Center, who will pay for the insurance.

Liability insurance will be covered by Regional West Medical Center in the amount of $1 million with a $10 million umbrella liability policy.

Regional West Medical Center will not receive Kimball tax-payer dollars. However, they will bill for services from Kimball County Ambulance Service, according to the contract, and they will receive all proceeds from billing and collection of those monies.

Training and ongoing education will be provided by Kimball Health Services and Regional West Medical Center, who will also provide and pay a medical director for the ambulance service.

Kimball County will continue providing the ambulance garage, heat and electricity, on-site housing for emergency responders, comprehensive and collision insurance and dispatching services.

It is the hope of the Kimball County Board of Commissioners that this contract will provide for the continued high level of care received from the Kimball County Ambulance Service with the same caring individuals at a reduced burden to Kimball County tax payers and that Kimball County will be able to meet all transfer needs in the future.

As expected, the public has many questions and concerns over this transition. Some of the frequently asked questions can be answered here, according to Kimball County Commissioner Tim Nolting:

The ambulances will remain housed in Kimball, at the Kimball County Courthouse Annex, as they are currently.

Tax payer money, in the form of wages, will go to Kimball Health Services. *Editor’s note: The only money that Regional West Medical Center will receive is from billing and collection.

Valley Ambulance Service will not gain financially from this partnership, in fact that company stands to lose money as Kimball County Ambulance Service becomes capable of all transfers.

First responders in Dix and Bushnell will remain unchanged.

All current Kimball County Ambulance Service emergency responders were asked to continue working for the service as employees of Kimball Health Services. *Editor’s note: These crew members may choose not to continue working for the service.

 

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