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County cancels contract

Commissioners rescind previous vote to enter agreement with CareFlite
The Ellis County Commissioners’ Court did an about face Monday on a proposed contract for ambulance service in the county after their Aug. 11 decision to approve it unleashed a stream of questions, concerns and criticism.
Since approving the contract with CareFlite two weeks ago, which allowed for two ambulances in Ellis County to cover all rural area accidents, the county commissioners have received a large amount of dialogue and feedback, County Judge Chad Adams said.
“(Precinct 3 Commissioner Heath) Sims has done a huge amount of work on this project,” Adams said of the contract with CareFlite.
As the end result of that work commissioners unanimously rescinded the previously approved contract with CareFlite and approved an extended contract with current ambulance service provider East Texas Medical Center (ETMC). The contract extension will be for approximately five years. Sims explained the contract would end to coincide with the contracts ETMC has with Waxahachie, Red Oak and Ennis so the entire county can simultaneously enter into future contracts.
The new contract, which has yet to be signed, will base two ambulances in Ennis, two in Waxahachie, one in Red Oak, one in Palmer and one in Italy.
Adams said things came up at the last minute that needed to be addressed regarding the CareFlite contract, which were mostly brought to light thanks to public outcry.
“This has nothing to do with the way CareFlite or East Texas has conducted themselves,” Adams said. “Both are outstanding companies.”
Jack Dineen spoke to the commissioners and thanked Precinct 2 Commissioner Bill Dodson and Sims for attending a meeting between them and the Ellis County Firefighters Association that resulted in getting the CareFlite contract placed back on the Commission’s agenda and organizing a future association that will work with ETMC to provide the best possible coverage. Dodson was the only commissioner to originally vote against approving the CareFlite contract.
“It’s good to see our commissioners, when new evidence or points are brought forward, that they can change their course,” Dineen said.
Charles Walker of the Ellis County Firefighters Association asked his group be allowed access to view the contract along with the county commissioners and judge to help assess how much access all Ellis County residents will have to ambulance services.
“We would like a copy of the contract for review to be sure it assists in providing citizens of Ellis County the best possible ambulance service,” Walker said. “We don’t care who the provider is, we want to make sure the money is spent wisely. We don’t want to short-change the citizens.”
Sims, who initially recommended the CareFlite contract, said its approval earlier this month generated competition, which brought forth questions and a thought process that ultimately helped benefit the most people possible.
In addition to extending the contract with ETMC, Sims said ETMC would be meeting quarterly with representatives of Ellis County’s Firefighters Association to answer questions regarding response times and other quality improvements necessary.
Sims also said an annual meeting would be held between ETMC and the County Commissioners’ Court so a yearly update can be provided. This would allow for the county to place ambulances in the spots most needed.
Ron Schwartz, Director of Operations for ETMC, spoke to the commissioners and said ETMC could provide training to the fire departments and first responders through live sessions or through videos, if the personnel so desired. He also said there might be a way to hold training sessions online soon.
“With backup from the Ennis Fire Department, mutual aid from Kaufman County and the additional ambulances, we should be able to cover this area very well,” Schwartz said.
Once the new contract with ETMC is complete, it will go into effect Sept. 30, 2008. As a worst-case scenario, Sims said the additional ambulances being added in Palmer and Italy would be ready to operate by Dec. 1 once the trucks are obtained and the staff is hired.

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Posted by on Aug 26 2008. Filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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