In spite of vehement objections by Mathias resident John Buckley, the Hardy County Emergency Ambulance Authority did not reverse their vote to provide non-emergency ambulance service to specific residents of the E. A. Hawse Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.

The HCEAA met on Wednesday, Nov. 13.

The Home for the Holidays program was proposed by Executive Director Derek Alt and approved by the Board of Directors at the September meeting. The program would provide non-emergency transport to a family member’s home for bed-bound residents of the nursing home. The transport would be done in one day. It would apply only to residents of the E. A. Hawse facility who have family in Hardy County. 

“This would apply to residents who would not ordinarily have the ability to pay for such transports,” Alt told the board in September. “It only applies to patients not able to be transported by any other means.”

Buckley said he objects because he doesn’t think taxpayer dollars should be spent for non-emergency transport. 

“Spending money for non-medical purposes is not in accordance with the agency’s core mission,” he said. “While I think it’s an admirable idea, I think the money should be raised from private funds.”

Alt presented cost calculations and determined a round trip would cost the HCEAA in the neighborhood of $195.00. 

Buckley said, based on the Medicare basic mileage of $7.40 per mile and two employees at $15 per hour for four hours, his total cost estimate would be more than $500 per round trip.

Buckley said he used costs from the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, an independent government agency established to advise Congress on Medicare issues. 

Board member Doug Coffman said he conducted an informal survey of about 25 individuals. “I got not one negative comment,” he said.

“I see it as a community service and not an issue. We voted to approve it, I see no reason to change it.”

HCEAA Advisory Committee Chair George Crump said he’s only received positive comments as well. “If a volunteer EMT donated their time, the cost would be reduced,” he said.

HCEAA President Paul Lewis said the previous vote stands.

Buckley said he would be happy to chair a committee to solicit private donations to cover the costs.

Delinquent Accounts

Alt advised the board the HCEAA is ready to file legal action in Magistrate Court against those people who have not paid their ambulance fee. 

“We will start with the people who are the most number of years in arrears,” he said. “We estimate between 40 and 60 per month will be filed.”

Buckley asked why the names of delinquents could not be published in the newspaper, similar to delinquent tax accounts. 

“It’s not in state code that we can do that,” Lewis said. “It is written in code that the delinquent taxes are to be published.”

“Can the prosecuting attorney offer an opinion or get an opinion from the Attorney General?” Buckley asked. “I think it would be worthwhile to get an opinion.”

Other Business

•Lewis said the contract for services to Fraley Ambulance was signed and they have received the first stipend payment.

•The contract for services to Wardensville Volunteer Rescue Squad had some issues and would be discussed in Executive Session.

•The HCEAA and the Local Emergency Planning Committee were working to establish regular first aid and CPR classes.

The next meeting of the Hardy County Emergency Ambulance Authority will be held on Wednesday, Dec. 11 beginning at 6:30 p.m. The meeting will be held at the HCEAA headquarters in Baker. The public is invited to attend.