PARIS, IL. (ECWd) -
A local Edgar County resident who claims to have once received a phone call from the President and declined to talk to him, has been making some outrageous claims in regards to the Edgar County Special Service Area and the tax funds collected for the Special Service Area.
To put this into historical context, the ambulance service in Paris, Illinois, used to be run out of the hospital - and it was a complete disaster (a point that was not contested in recent Edgar County Board meetings). The county then operated the ambulance service - and it was a complete financial disaster again. A referendum was later passed to form the Special Service Area and the former county employee who virtually drove it into the ground while it operated out of the hospital was paid to take it off the county's hands - again, it was another complete disaster. Next, the ECSSAA was bought by its current owner and has been a professionally run operation since they purchased it. They have served the Special Service Area and the rest of Edgar County admirably for years.
We must now operate on the old time-proven sayings: "Nothing is free" and "Be careful what you ask for, you just might get it"
Kim Brown rants about the tax levy for the Special Service Area, but I just checked mine, and according to the most recent tax bill available online, I pay a whopping $3.66 per month (a cup of coffee, even at Starbucks) to the Special Service Area.
He also says the "total county revenues are approximately $4.3 million" - he is wrong, they are $11.448 million according to Edgar County's filing with the Illinois Comptroller's office. While this issue has nothing to do with the Ambulance situation it is being noted as another piece of misinformation being spread.
Now to Kim Brown's fabricated claims in reference to the ambulance contract:
- Brown: "the [ambulance contract] decision may affect the total health care provided in Edgar County. Specifically our hospital."
- ECWd: An ambulance service does not affect the total health care in Edgar County as it relates to the Hospital. However, what will happen, if Horizon Health was awarded the contract, is Paris (and the county) will lose 5 ambulances overnight. This will tax all the other agencies in far-flung corners of the county which will in fact have a potentially very negative impact on patient care in the county, yet Brown supports getting rid of 5 ambulances?
- Mattoon tried this. It didn't work as planned.
- Effingham County did this. People died. Others waited for hours for needed care as a result of the Effingham County Board's position
- Brown: "It may be possible, after the money remains in the account for a certain amount of time, that the board can vote to use the money in another place to pay down the debt, pay for other county expenses, or given to Horizon Health for another ambulance"
- ECWd: WRONG!
- The money was taxed for the Special Service Area ("SSA") and does not belong to the county, therefore, no matter how long it stays in the account the county cannot vote to use it anywhere else other than the SSA. It was taxed for ambulance purposes and must be used for that purpose. Using it elsewhere could result in a taxpayer lawsuit against the county.
- It cannot be used to pay down the debt or other purposes.
- It cannot be "given" to Horizon Health for another ambulance - that is not in the contract and would be considered an impermissible gifting of public funds, a potentially criminal act.
- ECWd: WRONG!
- Brown: "The tax for ambulance services will not be levied for the next four years if Horizon Health gets the contract"
- ECWd: WRONG!
- It is already levied for this coming year
- The SSA is one year behind on paying the current contractor, ECSSAA, which means the tax funds still need to be paid next year.
- To recoup the funds paid on the now-existing contract, next year's tax will have to be levied.
- Most likely, a levy will continue in order to stock-pile funds to prepare the county to once again pay for ambulance service if they find the Hospital can't really do it for free and needs the tax money.
- ECWd: WRONG!
- Brown: "Contract minimums are satisfied by both providers"
- ECWd: NOT TRUE!
- Horizon Health does not currently have the required ambulances, but they "say" they will have it when the contract term begins
- I think we all know what happens when we shoot for the minimum
- ECWd: NOT TRUE!
- Brown: Thinks a mutual aid agreements with the Marshall (Clark County) ambulance is on par with ambulances based in Paris
- ECWd: I guess as long as its not an emergency, the extra 15-mile drive for an ambulance from Marshall might not be so bad - but we all know, in emergencies, seconds and minutes can make the difference between life or death
- Brown: "It's been reported that there was an EMTALH violation by the hospital and HH had to pay a $50,000 fine. I've been told that is not true. The violation was reported by [the ECSSAA], but the hospital was told they acted properly under the circumstances. They did not have to pay the $50,000 fine."
- ECWd: WRONG!
- First, we invite you to read (click here) about the 8 ("EIGHT") violations in the two reports available online
- The findings for the most recent report include: Failure to ensure Medical Screening Exam was performed, Failure to ensure an appropriate Transfer was completed. The patient was having a stroke like symptoms
- The findings in the earlier report include: "it was determined that the CAH failed to ensure all patients presenting to the ED received an appropriate medical screening examination and that the CAH designated those individuals qualified to perform a medical screening examination (MSE)" and "the CAH failed to ensure documentation of the risks and benefits associated with the transfer, that the patient was aware of the risks and benefits, and failed to meet the transfer requirements of the medical record documentation to the receiving facility. "
- The Hospital has not denied they were found in violation of patient care matters, nor have they denied they were fined around $50,000. Even if they were not fined, the fact remains they were found to have violated patient care issues and that alone should be a concern to everyone.
- ECWd: WRONG!
- Brown talks about the current mutual aid agreement HH will have - but he fails to mention that the ECSSAA already has those mutual aid agreements.
- Brown talks about the NECSSA - he is obviously ignorant to the fact that the Northern Edgar County Ambulance is not a Special Service Area and is fighting to keep its financial head above water.
- Brown states Horizon Health has been providing personnel and devices to the Northern Edgar County Service Ambulance at no cost. – The statement has NOTHING to do with the current situation. One could ask, why would they provide personnel and devices to any agency? Does Brown not realize every ambulance in the county could say the same thing every time they do a mutual aid call. Other agencies provide personnel and their own equipment and resources at no cost to the agency that calls for help. However for Brown to claim this is at no cost is confusing if you don’t know how the system works. Nothing is free and every ambulance is going to bill for the devices and personnel it uses on a call. Is Brown trying to imply the patient does not get a bill for Horizon's assistance?
- Brown states The NECSSA has been providing transfer assistance to HH. It's extra income that helps the NECSSA substantially. – Not true because there is no such thing as NECSSA. Northern Edgar County Ambulance is NOT a Special Service Area but more importantly, is the issue of patient transfers. Why would a Hospital contact an ambulance that is further away than the current operation in Paris, ECSSA? How is that putting the patient first? Is selecting a service from a further distance putting patient care as a priority? If I am in need of a transfer it makes little sense for me to have to wait for one to come from Northern Edgar County when there are several available in Paris.
- Brown: "In my opinion, Olie Smith, has brought substantial improvement to our hospital and health care in Edgar County. I really appreciate having an award winning hospital in our community. I have not been asked by Health Horizon to lobby for them. My support is offered to help keep a hospital in Paris, fed by a quality ambulance service that can work in harmony with the hospital to provide the best health care possible for my kids and grandchildren. I'm getting to the age where my next ambulance ride might be my last"
ECWd: And in our opinion, Mr. Brown should gather facts before spewing such misinformation to the public in his efforts to ensure one entity gets a contract over another based on his feelings and opinions. While Brown appreciates awards, he ignores documented factual patient care violations. Ignored because he was provided the actual links to the violations and has yet to acknowledge what he was told was clearly a lie. No matter who gets the contract, the Hospital will still be in Paris. Every ambulance in the area will continue to bring patients to the appropriate facility and horizon has confirmed they will continue to do what they do if the contract is awarded to ECSSA. Brown would know that if he attended a meeting to get facts instead of spreading misinformation
- Brown: "I hope this is helpful"
- ECWd: It’s not, because you have provided misinformation on virtually every statement you made which only muddies the waters