Sponsors Plan To
Add 2 Ambulances
For Lucrative Runs
BY KRISTEN BUCKLES
Greene County is continuing the battle to block other ambulance services from operating within the county, this time by considering investing more into the county's own services.
The Greene County Budget & Finance Committee on Wednesday sponsored a proposal by Mayor Alan Broyles and Greene County-Greeneville Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Director Robert Sayne to add two additional ambulances to the EMS fleet.
Sayne estimated that purchasing two remounted ambulances, adding two cots, and paying for four additional personnel would cost the county nearly $290,000 upfront.
Once the two ambulances were in place, the annual cost of the additional personnel, beginning as of the 2014-2015 fiscal year, would be $195,000.
The upfront $290,000 would have to come from cash reserves in the general fund, out of which most departments operate.
MONEY IN TRANSPORTS
The county's savings are dipping lower each year as officials continue to operate with higher expenditures than revenues.
Sayne said, however, that he is confident that he can recoup these upfront costs by the close of the 2013-2014 budget year, noting that Emergency Medical Services is already $100,000 ahead of last year's revenues.
Sayne credited this situation to the dialysis patients he has begun to transport this year.
He said that EMS did not transport these patients last year, but is currently "running as hard as we can" to transport five patients to and from treatment three times a week.
'A LOT OF REVENUE'
"There's a lot of revenue in transporting dialysis patients," Sayne explained. "The least we make off of one dialysis patient in a year is $60,000 -- and that's one that's just got TennCare only.
"We don't charge anything less than the Medicare-allowed amount, so we average about $300 going, $300 coming back, plus $11 a mile," he later added.
The two newest remounted vehicles would answer emergency calls, while two of the current ambulances would only be used for transfer calls for dialysis and hospital discharge patients, Sayne said.
He estimated that he could have four new EMS-IVs -- a designation which refers to medical technicians, rather than paramedics -- operating the non-emergency transports by January.
EMS currently has six ambulances and two spares, according to Broyles.
"With our six vehicles that we have, it's impossible to take care of all of these transports," Broyles said. "That's what prompts these outside services coming in.
"That being said, these are the kind of services that bring in revenue. That's the kind of services these outside services want to do because that's actually where the money is."
BLOCKING OTHER SERVICES
Sayne said he expects the Greene County-Greeneville Emergency Medical Services Board to move forward with a resolution to prohibit other services from operating in the county once more ambulances are added to the local fleet.
"I'm confident the revenue will be there at the end of the day and it will more than pay for itself," Broyles said of the upfront costs.
"That is the only recourse that I see that we can eliminate the outside services coming in.
"If Greene County doesn't have the vehicles to perform the services, we can't expect the outside services to stay out," the mayor continued.
At Broyles' recommendation, the committee recommended that EMS make the needed purchases to operate two additional ambulances.
The matter will come before the County Commission for final approval on Nov. 18.