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Ambulance board discusses ambulance charge

While maintaining some ties to the Marion County Ambulance District, Cardinal Glennon plans to begin operating their own ambulance rather than rely on the Marion County Ambulance District to provide.

Chief John Nemes updated the ambulance district board on the decision during last week’s district’s Zoom meeting, at which the board also discussed changes to the Ralls County contract and  heard updates on bunker gear and CARES Act funding.

Nemes said he had spoken with Cardinal Glennon’s director recently and the original plan to shift over the ambulance at the first of the year has been pushed back to mid-March.

While they will be using their own ambulance after that, Cardinal Glennon still wants to lease the same space at Base 1. However, that will be an issue for the ambulance district, Nemes said.

“In light of this and the size of their new truck, it would add several difficulties in how the district currently operates there, especially in regards to the decontamination process needed for COVID,” Nemes said, noting the space the Cardinal Glennon currently leases is on the upper area at Base 1.

Nemes noted the basement area can be made into an identical space with some HVAC work, and presented a bid for $20,290 from Peter’s Heating and Air for that part of the project.

While other renovation work would also be needed, he said he did not have a bid for that cost.

In addition, once the Cardinal Glennon ambulance is moved to the lower level, an enclosed carport would need to be built to accommodate the truck, but that area would become leased space as well.

The board approved allowing Nemes to spend up to $30,000 for the renovation work.

In a related matter, Nemes said Cardinal Glennon also prefers to hire their own drivers and with other liabilities involved with the planned change, “this is probably the best move for both agencies.”

He added the current drivers can be moved back into the Marion County rotation once the move happens.

In addition, Nemes said Cardinal Glennon’s truck would need to have a Stryker power lift added since it did not have one, along with the used ambulance purchased earlier in the year. Cost for those and one power load cot is $59,309.62. 

After discussion, the board agreed to authorize the purchase of the two power lift systems with maintenance, up to $50,000, and hold off on the additional cot until 2021.

In other business, the board heard an update from Nemes on the Ralls County contract, particularly in regards to the labor currently provided by Marion County.

“With the call volume increase at Marion County and the restrictions placed upon the district under the Affordable Care Act, I’ve begun exploring other options in how the labor is currently provided so the district can have a contingency to address the call volume,” he said. “I will be meeting soon with the Ralls County board to discuss these options, but the current contract is still good until Jan. 1.”

The board tabled the matter until after Nemes meets with Ralls County.

Nemes reported he had submitted a request to the Marion County Commission for matching funds to purchase new protective gear for every employee, adding that the current gear was a couple of years past the expiration and they had already budgeted $60,000 in 2020 to begin replacing it in increments. 

However, the price of the gear had increased since their initial quote, coming in at $1815 per set currently.

“To outfit every employee would require 70 sets for a total of $127,050,” Nemes said, adding he had requested half of that, or $63,525 in CARES Act funds. 

While Nemes said he had  read the request had been approved, he had not received an official notice yet. 

If the request was approved, Nemes said he would need to spend $3,525 more than the amount previously approved in the budget for 2020, but the total was within his approval limit if the Board allowed him proceed. The board agreed to the purchase pending the matching fund approval by the commission.

In his report, Nemes said he had also requested hazard pay reimbursement from the CARES Act funding and to date has received $100,938.12 of the $172,635.26 requested.

He also noted he had appealed to the county commission to full fund a request for hazard pay on which they had only approved half of it.

Nemes also reported:

• Deputy Chief Marty Miller and Division Chief Eric Murfin had attended the Tactical Emergency Casualty Care course which teachers EMS practitioners and other pre-hospital providers how to respond to and care for patients in a civilian tactical environment;

• ambulances had provided medical presence for special events in Marion County and at multiple football games; and

• the district has cancelled plans for the annual Christmas dinner due to COVID and is seeking ideas for how to safely celebrate.

Nemes also noted the new Braun unit is in service and is being used by the 12-hour reserve crew to give it a break-in period.