East Texas Medical Center EMS informed the city of Waxahachie during a meeting Tuesday afternoon they will be ending their contract to provide ambulance service to Ellis County. ETMC EMS has served the county for more than 20 years as its ambulance provider.
“We had a meeting with East Texas this afternoon. At that time, they informed us they were going to pull out of the contract. It will be effective either March 1 or April 1. They are still working out a few details,” said Waxahachie City Manager Paul Stevens.“(There is a) plan for CareFlite to come in and be the ambulance provider — at least until the end of the contract, which is Jan. 2, 2016.”
East Texas representatives explained to city staff there is an option in their contract if a legal or a regulatory change affects their revenue stream, they can get out of the contract. The reimbursement that ETMC EMS gets from Medicare and Medicaid has recently been reduced for the ambulance trips. At present, East Texas officials stated they can’t make their business model work to be in remote counties.
It works in Tyler because they are picking up patients and taking them to their hospital. Here they are only doing pickups, Stevens said.
Stevens wants to assure residents that the change in ambulance service is not going to affect emergency response.
“CareFlite of course has an excellent reputation. We are going to meet with them very soon to discuss how this will work and to make this is as seamless a transition as possible,” Stevens said. “It does make it difficult because our fire and police departments have had a working relationship for a long time. Now somebody else is going to come in and do things differently. We will have to make adjustments together for that.”
The time for the meeting between the city and CareFlite has not been set at this time, Stevens said.
“What we were told by East Texas is that CareFlite will honor the contract as it exists today with no change in subsidy,” Stevens said.
According to the CareFlite website, since its founding in 1980, CareFlite Ground has transported more than 500,000 ground patients. CareFlite Ground currently operates ground ambulances and non-medical wheelchairs in and around the DFW Metroplex.
CareFlite provides 911 and EMS service to Balch Springs, Southeast Dallas County, Ellis County Emergency Service District No. 5 (Ferris), Hill County and Johnson County.
The announcement from ETMC EMS came as a surprise and was not expected by the city.
“I think that what is difficult is that if they told us they were going to finish out the contract and then we are done, that is one thing,” Stevens said. “For them to get out of the contract so quickly and bring in another provider makes it that much more difficult to adjust. We will work diligently with CareFlite to make sure it does work.”
Stevens added, over the years, there have been some problems that have come up, but those problems could always be worked out. The city has maintained a good working relationship with ETMC EMS over the years, Stevens said.
Both the fire and the police departments have been notified about this change in service. The change will not impact fire service to the city, Stevens said.
“We will still do what we do as far as being first responders. When there is an ambulance being called out our guys go as well,” Stevens said. “That is something we will want to discuss with CareFlite to make sure that still works and it is a seamless process. We will do our very best to make sure that there is no issues in service and that when people call for an ambulance there will be an ambulance there.”
ETMC EMS was contacted for comment on this decision but no comment was received as of press time. Baylor Scott and White Medical Center has also been notified about this change, Stevens said.