BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
LEE COUNTY – Plans are currently on track with less than a month remaining before Lee County officially takes over it’s ambulance service.
At Monday’s regular meeting of the Lee County Board of Supervisors, the board approved 4-0 an amendment to the current contract with Lee County EMS Ambulance Inc, to end on June 30th at 8 a.m.
Originally, the plans were to take over at midnight on the morning of July 1, 2021, but new Director Dennis Cosby and Director of Operations Jason Dinwiddie decided an extra day would be advantageous.
Supervisor Garry Seyb, who has been on the steering committee along with Supervisor Rick Larkin, said thing are on track to transition the service seamlessly.
“I don’t see any big issues,” Seyb said. “Ambulances, we’re having a little bit of a time before we can receive those, but we’re going to (loaners) from them if they can’t deliver ours on time.”
In December, the county purchased six new ambulances from North Central Ambulance Service, three transport-van type ambulances and three full-service ambulance rigs. They also acquired one ambulance from Lee County EMS in the purchase agreement.
Cosby said the county will be picking up some of those ambulances this week.
“We’ll be picking up two, possibly three of them this week. If they can’t deliver the third, they’ll give us a third vehicle as a loaner until the third is finished being built,” Cosby said.
He also said the county is just one EMT away from being fully staffed. There are applications for the position, and orientations and training sessions are underway with those already hired on.
“We’re on track to take over on the 30th,” Cosby said.
Supervisor Ron Fedler said with the governor signing into law a bill making ambulance service an essential service under Iowa code, the service now has a firmer financial footing.
“It’s going to make a difference for what they get paid for medicare, medicaid and private service, for what people have covering ambulance service,” Fedler said.
“One of the big problems private companies had was that they were losing money on every medicare patient they hauled. This law will help generate more revenue and my goal has always been to not make money on this, but make it self-funding so we didn’t have to put any taxpayer money into supporting it.”
The new law would require the board to pass a resolution making ambulance service an essential service, set up a committee, which is already in place, and then any levy proposed to help offset costs of the service, would have to go to a public vote.
Larkin said the county did a good job of putting people who know ambulance services at the front of the discussion.
“Those folks know ambulance service and we relied on people that had the knowledge,” Larkin said. “We just weighed in on our own, but as far as I can tell, they’ve done an excellent job.
“There were some bumps in the road, but we got them smoothed out. I’m really enthused about this and I’ve had a lot of people talk to me about this ambulance service and I tell them all this will be a better service with the county.”
In other action, the board:
• approved selling 1216 Fulton Street for $400 to a single bidder.
• approved a renewed contract with Solutions Inc. for county computer programming support
• approved several step pay increases and position promotions.