Although they were not able to take any action, the Washington County Supervisors Tuesday considered adding a third shift to the Washington County Ambulance services. They plan to take …
Although they were not able to take any action, the Washington County Supervisors Tuesday considered adding a third shift to the Washington County Ambulance services. They plan to take up the issue for discussion and action again at their next regular meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 5.
In the quarterly report presented to the Washington County Supervisors Oct. 17, Katrina Altenhofen, interim director for the Washington County Ambulance services, stressed the need for a permanent third crew at the department’s Washington Base (District 1). Last week, the supervisors discussed the possibility, including financial savings that would come from a regular shift rather than overtime and double time from the other two shifts. However, there were other factors, including space needs for the third crew, which Altenhofen also addressed after stressing the need for it. Reference also was made that the county has to compete for paramedics and EMTs with nearby counties such as Johnson and Linn and their pay scales.
“This type of increase also requires serious discussion of a new building and/or building expansion to meet the crew’s needs.” After their discussion Nov. 21, supervisors took a first step toward a “serious discussion” in setting a work session (in which no decision would be made) for 10 a.m. Nov. 28. They also indicated that it is likely more than one discussion would be held before a final decision was voted on.
However, in the meantime, they approved a temporary mandatory emergency on-call policy, a move necessitated by two emergency situations to guarantee EMS services coverage.
In her report summary, which she discussed with the board at the Oct. 10 meeting, it was stated, “The goal and vision for EMS in Washington County remain to preserve life, prevent further injury or illness and to promote a resilient community.” The goal was stated when the department was established.
The same report noted that early in the first quarter of 2023-24, the county ambulance services did an IT audit and decided that having an outside vendor could save the department a considerable amount of money by removing the numerous subscriptions and accounts and consolidating the IT needs. To date no server breaches were identified and the service receives on-site monthly inspections of its IT system and its functionality. Even more, the process of “migration” towards one software program that met the service’s patient care records, billing, claims and scheduling needs is also complete and “going very well.” The scheduling transition is nearly complete and billing/claims training will continue for a few more months.
In the first quarter of FY24, there were an increased number of calls for service. On the basis of that, it has been projected that FY24 likely will have 4,838 calls. For the third quarter, District 1 had 4123 calls and District 2 (Kalona), 178.
As would be expected, the majority of calls were in Washington with 371. Kalona had 66; Wellman 77; Riverside, 53; Ainsworth, 39; West Chester, 4; Keota, 5; Brighton, 29; Crawfordsville, 5; and Richland, 1. The figures do not include cancelled calls.
Supervisors Tuesday appeared to favor the third shift, although they requested more details. If a plan comes together, it could be in place by July 2024.