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DCH Will Provide Ambulance Servce

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Article written by: Mike Grant Times Herald

After more than a month of discussions and meetings, the Daviess County Commissioners have awarded the ambulance contract to Daviess Community Hospital. The hospital will take operations at the end of the year from long-time provider Southwest Medical Service.

“The committee reached out to the current operator and they stated they would not be submitting a bid,” said Daviess County Councilman Tony Duncheon, who sat on the ambulance contract committee. “The committee reached out and we were fortunate to get two quality individuals representing two outstanding groups. We studied their bids and proposals and decided on DCH.”

The deal with DCH will be for five years and calls for the commissioners to pay an annual fee of $575,000.

“We have a lot of work to do,” said President of the Daviess County Commissioners Nathan Gabhart. “The ambulance service contract is one of the most important things the commissioners oversee. We’ve had a good quality provider for decades that is getting out of the market, so it is critical we find a competent provider. Now the real work starts.”

Both DCH and the other bidder, Stone Creek Ambulance, provided competitive bids.

“As far as the number of trucks and the number of bases, they are fairly similar,” said Gabhart. “The cost structure is a little different. As far as the ability of both to do the job, I don’t think this committee had any problems with their abilities.”

DCH officials say that even though the contract calls for them to begin next January, they can get geared up sooner.

“We have a strategic plan to get the staffing in place,” said DCH Chief Operating Officer Keith Miller. “We can start within 120 days.”

Right now, the plan is to make the hospital the base of operations for the new ambulance service. DCH is also considering some other bases for operations.

“We would need to select a northern base,” said Miller. “That would be based on the historical run volume and with the input of the area fire departments.”

The committee members have also discussed the possibility of putting a base in the eastern part of the county. The town of Cannelburg has been approached and was favorable to hosting a site. Officials say that decision will also come later.

The Commissioners approved the contract on a slim margin. Commissioner Michael Taylor said that given the hospital’s financial history, he was hesitant to turn over the ambulance service to them. He wound up voting against the contract in part because he apparently never saw the DCH proposa

“I didn’t find the email with the DCH proposal,” said Taylor. “I did get one from Stone Creek. I just wasn’t prepared to make a decision.”

Commissioners Tom McCracken and Gabhart voted in favor of the contract. For his part, Gabhart says he is comfortable with the hospital’s finances and with them operating the ambulance service.

“I’m extremely comfortable with the hospital,” said Gabhart. “I get that the hospital has had some financial issues, as have many other hospitals across the state. A lot of people have tried really hard to turn that place around. There is no need to throw stones. We have a good group here.”

One of the advantages of having the hospital as the ambulance service provider is that the deal allows for an adjusting factor to be made to the fee that is expected to reduce the cost in the long run.

“Because Daviess Community is a county-owned hospital, we have a factor that will decrease the fee we pay,” said Gabhart. “The hospital believes it can provide the service and as long as it is in the black, some of the excess money can be returned to the taxpayer.”