REAGAN COUNTY - There may only be about six emergency transfers a month in Reagan County, but they've been the unintended focus of some drama. The Reagan County and Hospital District were at odds about what constituted a medical emergency requiring a transfer and how to compensate for when the service was needed.
"They have become convinced that we are needlessly calling EMS to pick up 'transfer' patients," Reagan County Hospital District CEO Pam Clark explained. "I think a lot of the problem is there's no medical professionals on our county commissioners court, and they're having to make decisions about how EMS operates and what medically is an emergency."
The hospital district had stopped making payments to the county back in October, but now the months of disagreements could be behind them. Both sides have been in talks of starting over, and now they're almost to the finish line.
The hospital district has offered to pay the county $60,000 per year for two years. The money, which is less than the annual salary of an EMT, will go towards county paying the eight EMS workers, supplying equipment, and providing other service costs.
EMS Director Alan Garner tells NewsWest 9 everything went on as usual during the period leading up to this, but whenever a transfer service was needed, the county would call in from out of town, and that brought on other issues.
"We've had to make a couple of transfers to Lubbock which is way out of Big Lake's district," County Judge Larry Isom said. That travel would set the workers up for 8-10 hour days, and take away from medical needs within the area. "So we're going to put in our contract Odessa, Midland and San Angelo will be our transfer area," he said.
Now the two sides are in a verbal agreement, and just happy the worst is behind them.
"I think everybody was a little upset at first when the project was cut out. Now that it's come back in I think that everybody's real happy," Isom said, "I look forward to working with the hospital district again."
"I would welcome any arrangement that will take our citizens and give them the treatment that they want and deserve." Clark said.
The lawyers are drafting the contract. Officials said it'll be brought up in commissioners court in September, and project that the start date for the services will align with their budgets beginning October 1st.