Alton changes ambulance supplier and signs contract with Med-Care EMS – Progress Times
The City of Alton Commission on Tuesday approved an $ 8,000 per month contract with Med-Care EMS to handle 911 calls within city limits.
Med-Care EMS, a private ambulance company, replaced Palmview EMS, which had served Alton free of charge. Over the past six months, however, competition for paramedics has left Palmview scrambling to staff ambulances.
âFrankly, they had to make sure they could provide service to Palmview,â said Jeff Underwood, director of Alton City.
The City of Alton Commission approved a three-year contract with Palmview in March 2019. Under the contract, Palmview agreed to share all profits with Alton.
“The Town of Alton will receive fifty percent (50.0%) of the surplus EMS revenue collected from responses made by the ambulance assigned to Alton, once the Town of Palmview has covered all of its necessary expenses such as administrative and operating costs “, according to the contract. âThese revenues will be paid annually in September.
At the time, Med-Care EMS competed with Hidalgo County EMS, another private ambulance company, for contracts. They often offered to provide free ambulance services to local governments.
In October 2019, however, Hidalgo County EMS declared bankruptcy. After battling the pandemic, the Hidalgo County EMS closed in May 2021.
The town of Pharr bought EMS ambulances from Hidalgo County in a bankruptcy sale.
To staff them, Pharr embarked on a hiring wave. Palmview struggled to compete.
âSince Pharr has grown so aggressively, it kind of changed the math for paramedics,â said Michael Leo, director of Palmview City.
Palmview has struggled to keep paramedics on the payroll.
âWe’re just being poached,â said Gerardo âJerryâ Villarreal, director of human resources for Palmview. “This is the thing.”
Faced with a shortage of paramedics, Palmview made the difficult decision to ditch Alton.
Palmview provided Alton with notice of termination on November 9.
“We hope that this will not cause any inconvenience to the town of Alton”, according to a letter Leo wrote to Underwood. âPlease be aware that the Town of Palmview will continue to serve the Town of Alton throughout this transition. If for any reason the Town of Alton wishes to expedite the transition, we are prepared to do so. “
Palmview contacted Alton again on November 30.
“The Palmview City Manager and Fire Chief have told Alton staff that due to staffing issues they are expected to discontinue services as of Dec. 14, 2021,” according to information reviewed by the Town of Alton Commission. âMed-Care has agreed to intervene temporarily until a permanent solution is found for EMS in Alton. “
Underwood said he understands the situation Palmview is facing.
âIt’s a tough business,â Underwood said. “There is no doubt about it.”
Alton had to find a replacement for Palmview EMS – and quickly. Alton also had to pay Med-Care EMS a large monthly grant, which reflects the current market for ambulance services.
âIt was a bit of a scramble here at the end,â Underwood said.