The following is a synopsis of all 3 question and answer open houses:
- Pecan Plantation Volunteer Fire Department and Emergency Medical Services, Inc. (PPVFD & EMS) is a separate non-profit organization from PPOA. It has its own Board of Directors and anyone who lives in Pecan can be elected to the Board. PPVFD & EMS is a 501(c) 4 corporation. CPA Jay Garrison explained that because PPVFD & EMS provides a public service, it meets the criteria for a charitable deduction.
- PPVFD & EMS is currently losing money due to the decreased and delayed payments from insurance and Medicare/Medicaid. CPA Jay Garrison had a 3 year comparison showing our ambulance run revenues are down this year by $102,000.00. We are doing everything possible to secure these funds, making sure all documentation is correct, ensuring patient care reports are processed timely and sent promptly to the billing service, Intermedix. Intermedix is one of the best billing services in the country and is striving to collect what is owed. The EMS Chief and Assistant EMS Chief perform QA/QI on every report every day to ensure all information is correct before being sent to Intermedix.
- Hood County Fire Marshal Ray Wilson reported on the various ways the County assists all 8 Fire Departments. He did not include the Granbury VFD because it has a separate contract. The County pays a $5,000.00 annual allotment for fuel, which is used up fairly quickly. After the allotment is gone, they allow the departments to order fuel under the County for a discounted price. The County pays worker’s comp for all volunteer firefighters, all vehicle insurances (including our 3 ambulances), and a monthly subsidy for each of the 8 fire departments. Engine 82 and Brush 86 are Hood County vehicles and are used for fires outside Pecan.
- As the EMS 911 provider for Pecan, we must guarantee constant coverage. In order to guarantee coverage 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, paramedics and EMTs are paid. They are being paid an abysmal amount for the highly trained people they are. Paramedics are earning $15.00 an hour and EMTs are earning $10.00 an hour, the lowest rates in the state. PPVFD & EMS feels that because we are unable to provide benefits at this time, the least we can do is give the crewmembers a raise.
- The Texas Department of State Health Services (TDSHS) mandates that all 911 providers have a mutual aid agreement. It is a law that requires compliance from all emergency services. This is why the ambulances and fire trucks go outside the gates to help in surrounding areas and other services come into Pecan on occasion. Fire Chief Bill Mitchell told the groups that because all fire departments in Hood County are volunteer, 3 departments are called out on each fire which ensures having enough manpower. So, you may see the Indian Harbor Fire Department and the deCordova Fire Department here on occasion and we go there to help them when needed. And it’s not just fires, we can be called out to help in swift water rescues, car accidents or any other type emergency. The same is true of the ambulances. If TexasEMS (the ambulance service for the rest of Hood County) is busy and unable to respond to a call in town, we are called out to assist and vice versa is true as well. We are called out into Granbury on an average of once a month, and TexasEMS comes to Pecan once or twice a year.
- Through Intermedix, insurance companies of Pecan residents are billed for our services and we do not balance bill. The Office of the Inspector General mandates all patients be billed in the same manner. This means if one patient is not balance billed, no patients may be balance billed. We do not ask for or “go after” further payments once insurance has paid. George Gerdes spoke on the reasons for not balance billing. In the beginning of the EMS service, all ambulance runs were free and there were 3 calls all year. As the service grew and got busier, some type of revenue was needed. As you can imagine, there was a lot of uproar about going from free to asking for payments, so the PPVFD & EMS BOD arrived at a compromise; charge the insurance companies but not the patients. That is how we are chartered and it is stated in the PPOA contract. Patients will not be balance billed. Nowadays, EMS runs 75 calls a month and it is increasing at a rapid rate.
- PPVFD & EMS is not in dire financial straits at this time; that is not the reason the increase being requested. PPVFD & EMS is operating at a minimal level, though and costs are being watched very closely. The Board of Directors can see the direction PPVFD & EMS is heading and is trying to stave off financial trouble in the near future. In the recent past, PPVFD & EMS was able to set aside funds for major replacements and these funds have been utilized, leaving the balance at a low level. We have been taking care of expenses, but are unable at this point to continue to set aside more funds. Because of this, there are not enough funds in the Capital Reserve and Replacement account to replace a major piece of equipment if needed. To say that vehicles and equipment is expensive is an understatement. One fire engine replacement costs upward of $600,000.00 and a new ambulance costs $280,000.00. In the past, the ambulances have been able to be remounted in order to save money, but they cannot be remounted again. So, if an ambulance needs to replaced, it will have to be a new one. A remount is taking the square box part of an ambulance off one chassis and placing it on a new chassis, but that process can only be done once and each of our ambulances have had this done.
- PPVFD & EMS is growing, as is Pecan Plantation itself; changes and improvements are always happening. The main concern though is taking care of the residents, whether it is protecting them from fire or providing the very best medical care we have to offer.
Remember, we are here for you! Call 911 for any emergency.