EMS fees increase

Published 9:36 am Wednesday, July 6, 2011

WINTON – If you find yourself as a passenger onboard a Hertford County owned ambulance, be prepared to pay more for the medical transportation.

At their meeting here Tuesday morning, the Hertford County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to approve a request made by County EMS Director James Broglin to increase ambulance fees.

Additionally, the board gave their approval to another suggestion made by Broglin, that of charging a medical treatment fee for those refusing to be transported.

In making his presentation, Broglin told the commissioners that the county has not increased its ambulance transport fees since February of 2006, at which time the level of service was improved from Basic Life Support (BLS) to Advanced Life Support (ALS).

“We need this adjustment in our rates due to continued increases in our costs – medical supplies, equipment and the price of fuel,” Broglin said.

He suggested increasing ALS (emergency and non emergency) calls from $375 to $425; BLS (emergency and non emergency) responses from $250 to $325; and adjusting the per mile transportation rate from $9.50 to $10.50.

In making his pitch for a new fee of $225 assessed to patients that receive on-site medical treatment, but then refuse to be transported, Broglin said it would help to cover costs incurred by the county when such situations arise.

“These types of calls are becoming more frequent, especially since we moved to ALS and people know we’re capable of offering treatment at the scene,” Broglin stated. “In some cases, especially on a diabetic related call, the patient is semi-responsive upon our arrival. Our technicians treat those patients at the scene, causing the person to have an immediate reaction to the medication. The patient becomes coherent and upon feeling better due to the medication, refuses to be transported, which is the right of an adult patient.”

Broglin said one type of medication used to immediately treat a diabetic patient costs $90 per dose.

“The way our current system operates, we can’t charge for that (medication) if no transport to a medical facility is provided,” Broglin noted. “We can spend upwards to $115 per trip, not counting the time of our employees, for these calls that end with no one being transported. What I’m requesting is to create a new charge for services rendered to help the county recoup some of the money being spent on these types of calls.”

Broglin added that EMS in other counties are currently studying instituting the same type of charge.

“If we treat these patients at the scene and they refuse transport, what they’re doing is saving on a visit to a hospital emergency room where they will be billed for up to $2,000 a visit; right now they’re getting that service from the county for free,” Broglin stressed.

He added this new charge would only apply to calls requiring advanced medical treatment.

“This fee will not affect basic medical calls that include welfare checks, assessing vital signs, lifting assistance and things of that nature,” Broglin said.

Upon a motion from Commission Vice-Chairman Curtis Freeman, the board approved the ALS/BLS/mileage increases as well as the addition of the new, $225 non-transport fee. The measure was approved without objection.

Additionally, the board approved the annual applications for ambulance transport companies currently operating with a franchise agreement with Hertford County. Those approved franchises include Bertie Ambulance Service, Hertford County Emergency Services, Med-Ex Medical Transport Service and White Oak Medical Transport Service.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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