County could assume more rescue squad obligations and expenses
by Larry Chowning
The Middlesex Board of Supervisors will hold a public hearing on Tuesday, March 7, at 7 p.m. to consider establishing a “consistent method” of collecting rescue squad transport insurance fees throughout the county.
The Middlesex County Volunteer Rescue Squad (MCVRS) in Deltaville and the Central Middlesex Volunteer Rescue Squad (CMVRS) in Urbanna currently collect patient transport fees from insurance companies and Medicare, using different methods.
Middlesex Emergency Services Director Mark Nugent suggested at the board’s February 7 meeting that the county consider hiring a firm to collect all transport fees consistently.
Currently, only those with insurance that covers collecting transport fees are billed and have to pay. However, under the new method, everyone served will be billed for the full amount and for co-pays—but only those with insurance coverage will be obligated to pay the transport fees, indicated Nugent.
Hiring an outside collection firm also will take the burden of billing and collection off the backs of the two rescue squads. Each squad will continue to receive the insurance funds collected from those they serve, said Nugent.
Recently, the Urbanna squad has not been able to keep up with its volume of calls and has had to rely on the Deltaville squad to fill the void. This led to the county paying professional EMTs to operate an additional ambulance stationed at the Middlesex Volunteer Fire Department (MVFD) firehouse in Urbanna.
With the Deltaville squad, Urbanna squad and extra ambulance at the Urbanna firehouse, all of the county is currently being served 24 hours a day, seven days a week, said Nugent.
The extra ambulance is being provided by the Deltaville squad at no cost and the MVFD is housing it at no cost.
Middlesex County will pay $48,000 out of this fiscal year’s budget for staffing the extra ambulance.
At a February 10 budget work session, Nugent outlined a long-term plan for Middlesex County to start taking over a portion of the two rescue squads’ responsibility in the county.
Nugent suggested the county close the temporary station at the Urbanna Firehouse at the end of the current fiscal year (June 30), and assume responsibility for MCVRS’s Hartfield station. The county would operate the Hartfield station with paid personnel and take calls when the Urbanna or Deltaville squads are either already out on calls or do not have enough volunteers to make the calls.
Nugent said the Hartfield station would cost the county $473,000 annually to operate. Transport collection fees out of the Hartfield station could generate about $190,000, which could be used to offset the cost.
Nugent said he is hopeful the Urbanna squad will increase the number of its volunteers, which is way down, to help keep the organization solvent. In the meantime, the Hartfield station would “take up any slack,” said Nugent.
Supervisors will make the final decision on the plan, noted Nugent.