An initial discussion took place earlier this week about the future of Greene County Emergency Medical Services.
Co-Owner Dennis Morlan spoke to the Greene County Board of Supervisors about his recent health issues, which is why he reluctantly has to step away from the physical operation of his 32-year business of providing ambulance services to the county. “Healthwise, (with) cancer, chemotherapy (has) basically destroyed my body. I can’t lift anymore is about what it comes down to. (I) Probably have no business working a two-man crew by myself anymore.”
However, the soon-to-be 75-year-old continually told the Supervisors that he and his wife, Marcia, won’t just walk out the door on July 1st, but he wants to make sure that a solution is found by then and will continue to help with the transition in any capacity that he and his wife can. He pointed out that not increasing the EMS budget from $50,000 per year for 32-years to at least keep up with inflation, wasn’t the best strategy. Morlan noted that last year, due to the privatization of Medicaid, EMS took at 25-percent, or $100,000, income deduction.
“We’ve had two or maybe three people take a look at the service who may have an interest in it. But they can’t financially do what we do to operate that service. We have lost staff because of our inability to provide benefits. Absolutely the money is not there.”
Morlan estimates that the work that he and Marcia do would need to be filled by five people, but he’s having a hard time recruiting employees.
Supervisor Chair John Muir acknowledges that the service needs to continue for the county, but the Board isn’t sure what route to take.
“We haven’t gotten to the point where we want it county-based. That’s where we stumble because we haven’t been able to look outside of the box enough to envision what exactly we want it to look like. We’ve had what we’ve had and it’s worked, it just cannot work going on (into the future).”
The County owns all three of the ambulance vehicles. The equipment is owned by the Morlans and is valued between $100,000 and $150,000. Morlan noted that he thought a $200,000 increase would help with the transition and catch up the budget with inflation. Some of the solutions that were discussed included: having Greene County Medical Center operate the ambulance service, having it privately owned, having it county-based or keeping the agreement similar to what’s in place now with the county.
Going forward, Morlan will investigate any other potential feelers out there to own the business, while also finding out how other communities operate. Morlan added that he wanted the decision by July 1st so that if he had to renew some business policies he could for another fiscal year.