The Llano County Commissioners Court approved an interlocal agreement with Hamilton County EMS during a special Oct. 19 meeting. Should the agreement go through, Hamilton County EMS will take over for Baylor Scott & White Health providing emergency medical services.
The agreement going forward is contingent on a final acceptance by the Hamilton County Hospital District board, which meets Oct. 28.
Because Hamilton EMS operates as part of an official agency — the Hamilton Healthcare System — arrangements could be made through an agreement rather than requiring a process of soliciting bids. This was a plus for Llano County leaders, who are seeking to replace Baylor Scott & White before the contract with the entity runs out Jan. 1.
“A formal bid process is lengthy, and we have a deadline,” said Precinct 1 Commissioner Peter Jones. “To go through a bid process, etcetera, etcetera, could be quite lengthy.”
Another benefit, Jones said, was the extensive network that Hamilton EMS operates. Along with Hamilton County, Hamilton EMS operates in Mills and San Saba counties.
“Also, they are an approved Critical Access hospital designation through Medicare” Jones said. “That provides them with additional revenue with that designation. Consequently, they can offer services for Llano County at frankly the same rate as Baylor Scott and White. So, it’s kind of a win-win from the point of view of cost, their revenue, their designations, their extended service area that they’re covering.”
Even ahead of the final agreement with the Hamilton district board, preparations are underway, said Patrick Cobb, Hamilton County Hospital District director of EMS and Emergency Management.
Baylor Scott & White operated three stations but only staffed two with ambulances. Hamilton EMS will be providing four trucks instead.
“One of the things Hamilton did commit to was that any of the current BSW EMS employees that are now on staff, we’re allowing them to transition to Hamilton if they choose to do so,” Cobb said. “In addition to that, we’re accepting applications for additional staff because, obviously, going from two trucks to four, even if all employees transition, we’re still needing to hire employees from the outside.
“We’re doing some analysis with the county on the best deployment of our four trucks, but right now, tentatively, there will probably two in Llano, one in Buchanan Dam area, and one in Kingsland,” Cobb added.
The Hamilton EMS system is also licensed at the Mobile Intensive Care Unit level, the highest available in the state of Texas. This requires every ambulance to be staffed with a paramedic, a cardiac monitor, a defibrillator, and appropriate medications.
“Keep your fingers crossed. We’ll have all of our employees on board and trained and credentialed and ready to staff those four trucks January 1,” Cobb said.