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HCH shortfall for 2019 nearly $283K

The Harrison County Council now knows the financial shortfall it is looking to fund for the county’s emergency medical services. Harrison County EMS said it had a 2019 shortfall of $282,832.

The Harrison County Council now knows the financial shortfall it is looking to fund for the county’s emergency medical services. Harrison County EMS said it had a 2019 shortfall of $282,832.

Due to a several decades-old agreement, Harrison County Hospital provides the county with ambulance services, as long as the county covers any operational costs EMS does not get reimbursed, such as health insurance.

The hospital was in front of the two county governing bodies earlier this year, where it received $420,202 to cover the 2018 budget shortfall.

Chuck Wiley, chief financial officer for HCH, said the hospital is able to save money by self-insuring staff.

The shortfall is something that has been on the Harrison County Council’s radar to still come this year. The council will hear more about the 2019 shortfall at its next regularly scheduled meeting, set for 7 p.m. Monday, Sept. 14.

Harrison County EMS Director Joe Squier also told the Harrison County Board of Commissioners yesterday morning (Tuesday) what his department’s capital requests are for 2021. He said the priority is two new ambulances.

“We currently have six frontline vehicles with over 200,000 miles on them,” Squier said.

In 2018, Harrison County EMS proposed a new replacement schedule where it was to receive four new ambulances every three years, receiving two ambulances one year and then getting one ambulance each of the next two years.

Squier said recently EMS had three trucks break down in one day.

“If we had a fourth truck go down, we would have had to send a crew home,” he said.

That would have left the county short on EMS coverage.

Squier said some of the other requests include replacing the classroom chairs, which were schoolroom-style desks brought from the old hospital. EMS is also requesting three command staff vehicles.

EMS recently received its new ambulance the county funded earlier this year. Squier said he and his department have been pleased with their new manufacturer, Osage Ambulances. The new ambulance is expected to be in service later this month.

In other county business, the commissioners said an attorney who has expertise in what qualifies for federal CARES Act reimbursement will meet tomorrow morning, beginning at 8:30, with some department heads. That includes Harrison County Sheriff Nick Smith, who is looking to purchase a body scanner to check inmates before they are housed at the jail.

Smith said the body scanner he is looking at is already in place in both Floyd and Clark counties. He also said Dubois and Palaski counties have been able to purchase a body scanner and get the expense reimbursed due to COVID-19.

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