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EMS, health department on agenda for tonight

The Harrison County Commissioners and representatives from the Harrison County Hospital last Tuesday night scheduled a workshop for tonight (Wednesday) at 6:30 in the Baumgart Room of the new Harrison County Hospital to discuss the prospective Emergency Medical Services building on the new hospital campus. The representatives will also discuss options for housing of the health department.
‘I’ve preached it for a long time,’ said Commissioner Terry Miller. ‘We need to get together and straighten things out.’
‘We’ll get things ironed out and we can move forward,’ said Commissioner James Goldman.
Steve Taylor, the hospital’s CEO, and Jeff Davis, HCH chief financial officer, spoke to the commissioners about funding for the building.
‘The money designated for EMS was just sort of a place holder,’ said Davis. ‘The EMS facility was shelved, to address later.’
‘People have different memories of what happened in the past,’ said Commissioner J.R. Eckart. ‘There’s people that believe that money was committed (for the building).’
‘That was never our understanding,’ said Taylor. ‘Those were very much just projections.’
In related matters, Ron Walter of AirMethods, the parent company of STATCARE air ambulance service, spoke of the possibility of bringing his services to Harrison County Hospital.
‘The tone of air service has changed a little bit recently,’ said Walter. ‘Having a helicopter in outlying facilities is better economically and for care.’
STATCARE has provided service to the Harrison County area for more than 25 years, said Walter. STATCARE will include 24-hour staffing, with one pilot, nurse, medic and a full-time mechanic dedicated to the aircraft. The pilots would work in 12-hour shifts, while the medics work 24-hour shifts. STATCARE bases employ an average of 15 people with an annual payroll of about $460,000, said Walter.
‘I think we’re all anxious to have you come out here,’ said Eckart.
Walter said his company usually signs a five-year lease, but he foresees a long stay in Harrison County.
‘I have a feeling there’s a good, long history to be here,’ he said. ‘Our call volume is very strong in this area.’
Gary Kleeman, EMS director at HCH, discussed the positives of the helicopter service in Corydon. He said he thinks it will help eliminate unnecessary flights to Louisville.
‘I expect to see patients that we have previously flown out from downtown Corydon when they didn’t really need it, but we erred on the good side,’ he said. ‘I think instead of blindly flying those patients out, we’ll be able to literally in seconds find out if they need to go to surgeons for procedures we can’t do here.’
‘You won’t have to guess 15 to 20 minutes ahead,’ said Eckart.
Eckart asked Walter if a helicopter hanger was needed on the hospital grounds.
‘A hanger would be nice, but it’s not a needed thing, not an absolute deal breaker,’ said Walter, adding that 90 percent of their facilities don’t have hangers. ‘Operationally, it is a plus.’
The hanger would be used for light maintenance and weather sheltering, said Walter. The nearest hanger is located at Bowman Field in Louisville.
Taylor said they did not want to build a hanger only to see AirMethods leave after five years.
‘We would prefer to get them on board, and after a year or two see how it works out,’ said Taylor.
The helicopter will cover a six-county area, with back-up aircraft in Kentucky in Elizabethtown and Owensboro.
In other matters last week, Animal Control officer Bruce LaHue requested $216 out of county general to cover vacation payments from last year, before LaHue took over the position.
‘I’m sick and tired of people coming in here the last six or eight months with vacation time,’ said Miller. ‘I can’t understand why people can’t live within their budget. It’s never been like this.’
Eckart made the motion to send the request to the Harrison County Council.
‘It’s nice to have you working with us,’ said Eckart.
‘I enjoy the job,’ LaHue replied.