In Feb. 12 IssueBy Kim GrahamNews-Register Reporter
After eight months, Russell County EMS has put to rest the question of finances and where money was spent during fiscal years 2008/2009 and 2009/2010.
At their regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday, the Russell County Ambulance Board discussed results in the finalized audit received Monday, February 7 from Campbell, Myers & Rutledge, PLLC in Glasgow.
Russell County Ambulance Board Chairman James Gray said the only problem reported by the accounting firm was that bank reconciliations were not performed on a monthly basis.
Gray compared bank reconciliations to a person balancing their check book each month.
He said the finding applied to sporadic months, not every month, and it was the only problem reported in the audit.
"We've got two clean audits basically for two fiscal years," said Gray. "Everybody had big questions about some mysterious something going on at the ambulance service so (the audit) answers that."
Gray explained the audit was a financial audit showing money is accounted for and balanced.
The board welcomed anyone in local government who would like to see a copy of the audit to come by and pick it up.
The possibility of charging a response fee when patients are not transported was discussed. Hancock said he spoke to staff in Taylor County who said they ran into issues due to direct billing of patients because insurance companies will not pay response fees. The board questioned recovery of supplies when EMS responds and the patient is transported by Air-Evac. Staff said equipment is rarely recovered when it stays with patients transported by Air-Evac or to hospitals outside the county.
"They could very well leave out of here on a helicopter with $1,000 worth of our equipment on them that we'll never get back," said Shift Supervisor Troy Walters.
Equipment loss is an issue faced by many ambulance services.
"We have lost a lot of equipment this year, especially in spine boards," Hancock said. "These bigger hospitals…keep (equipment) for a certain amount of days and after that they destroy it…It's a statewide problem."
He said some services will pick up spine boards and bring them to a closer station for pick-up. Sometimes though, Hancock said services pick up boards that belong to others.
Russell County EMS marks their boards with name, address, and phone numbers. Some are shipped by hospitals or returned by Air-Evac but often, equipment goes missing.
"Last year I'd say we lost about 20 (spine boards)," said Hancock.
At an average cost of $150 each, EMS lost a $3,000 just in spine boards last year.
Many options were discussed but no clear cut solution was determined.
Hancock asked the board if there is a cut off limit on spending to repair truck 41. In the last year, EMS spent close to or over $10,000 on repairs of truck 41 Hancock said.
He said buying a new truck would cost approximately $100,000.
Gray said he would like to pay down their debt before purchasing another truck. Popplewell and Simpson agreed continued spending on repairs is the only option they are comfortable with until EMS debt is spent down.
In other business:
• Russell County EMS will offer a Paramedic class presented by Robert Campbell. February 25th is the deadline to register for the class currently being advertised to begin in March. A start date has not been set but the class will be held on Thursdays, eight hours each day.
• Staff reported they had received estimates of about $1,200 for supplies to construct a storage room. Labor will be supplied by staff members. The board voted unanimously to spend $1,500 on supplies to construct the storage room.
• Work continues on the employee handbook which is primarily complete except for a sick leave policy change that came under question. Hancock asked if a proposed change in sick leave policy could be implemented retroactively affecting current employees or if the changes affect only new employees once the handbook is approved. The board instructed Shearer to bring official Kentucky retirement information in writing from Kentucky Association of Counties to next month's meeting.