Council hears that ambulance station in Pekin likely to close PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 15 July 2009 00:00
      The Washington County Council met in regular session on Monday July 7 with all members present.  Amended minutes of previous meetings and all claims were approved unanimously.
    EMS Director Michael Medlock addressed the Council regarding recommendations to be made for cutting expenses for the ambulance service.  According to Medlock one recommendation to be made is to eliminated the ambulance station in Pekin.  That would mean that instead of three staffed ambulances being on duty in the county at all times just two would have to cover all calls.  Medlock went on to say that since 75% of all runs are within Washington Township, that will be the likely location for both ambulances.
    “We are going to have significant issues with EMS coverage in this county.” said Medlock. “Someone is going to call 911 and there isn't going to be an ambulance available.
    Even with  this and the other recommendations to cut expenses, the county will need to increase its financial support for the ambulance service to break even.  Currently, the county provides $266,000 a year.  The county is required by law to provide the service.
    The problem with ambulance service is but another issue brought about by the recent bankruptcy of Washington County Memorial Hospital (WCMH).  Besides the financial issues with the ambulance service, it is becoming more likely that the county will be expected to pay reimbursement to Medicare for overstatement by WCMH of allowable expenses in 2006 and 2007.  Estimates of that amount range from $1 million to $4 million.  
    Councilman John Fultz who also serves as the Council's representative on the Board of Directors for Critical Access Health Services (successor corporation to WCMH) said, “The number is more like $1.5 million to $2.5 million.”
    Councilman Merwyn Fisher suggested that an investigation be launched to determine exactly what happened and who is responsible for allowing the hospital to get in this condition.  Telephone interviews revealed that Fisher is not the only Council member who thinks an investigation may be in order.
    When asked if the county was considering holding members of the former WCMH Board of Trustees personally accountable for the financial burden of keeping the hospital open, Councilman Jim Day said, “We know they have insurance to cover this kind of thing.”
    Council President Mark Manship suggested that “everyone take a breath” and decide what to do once the exact numbers are known.
    All the Council members agreed that the hospital was too valuable of an asset for the community to allow it to close.    The Council admitted that by making that statement it left little room to negotiate with either Saint Vincent Health or Critical Access Health Services.
    In other business, the Council took the following action:
Let a request for $25K in funding for Blue River Services die for lack of action
Let a request for $7K in funding from PACT die for lack of action
Set August 10, 11, & 12 as dates for Budget Hearing
Appropriation from Reassessment Fund to pay contracts
Approve transfer of money to Sheriff's Office Retirement Fund

    With no other business to conduct, the Council adjourned until its next regularly scheduled meeting on Monday, August 3.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 15 July 2009 12:38