Springdale Council Approves Ambulance Fee Adjustments

Central EMA Switch In Dispatching Will Cost Tontitown

SPRINGDALE -- New ambulance fees approved by the City Council Tuesday will change little in the cost to the consumer.

The biggest change is to include costs previously listed separately in one price, said Fire Chief Mike Irwin.

At A Glance

Council Action

Springdale’s City Council met Tuesday and approved:

• Rezoning 8.1 acres from agricultural to institutional at 100 S. Gutensohn St. owned by First Untied Presbyterian Church; 1.9 acres from general commercial to light industrial at 1906 Lowell Road owned by Luis Quinoez; 1.6 acres from agricultural to general commercial for property on southwest corner of Old Missouri Road and Palisades Avenue owned by Fishing Bridge Investments for construction of commercial or office space

• A $104,154 policy with CNA Insurance to cover buildings in the city.

• Youth Strategies as the new administrator for the city’s Community Garden

Source: Staff Report

"It's called bundled billing," Irwin said. "Medicare prefers it and the insurance companies are going to it."

The only new charge is for basic medical service to patients not taken to a hospital, Irwin said. Previously, unless a patient was treated extensively, there was no charge for the ambulance response, Irwin said.

"We still wouldn't charge if we just take someone's blood pressure," Irwin said, "but if we give them oxygen and run an IV, there will be a charge now."

The charge for basic life support without going to a hospital will be $200. If the patient is taken to a hospital, the charge is $425.

That would be about the same as the old price of Medicare's allowable charge plus 15 percent, Irwin said. Advanced life support with transportation would be $525 with level two advanced life support transportation going to $725, according to the change approved by the council.

Most end users will see very little difference, said Alderman Eric Ford, chairman of the council's Police and Fire Committee.

The council also approved laying out how Springdale will dispatch fire and emergency medical calls for Tontitown and the rural land surrounding that city covered by the Tontitown Area Fire Department. Springdale ambulances also respond to Tontitown.

"Nothing will change on how we do things," Ford said.

The ordinance puts in writing the procedures the dispatch center has always followed, said Police Chief Kathy O'Kelley.

"It clarifies the role our dispatch center will play in dispatching the calls," O'Kelley said. "We were asked to install a button that would change who our calls go to. We won't have to do that."

The calls will go out over the old frequency used by the Area Fire Department. The Tontitown council created a fire department instead of contracting with the Area Fire Department for fire protection.

The Tontitown Fire Department will monitor the Area Fire Department's calls and those organizations will decide which will have the responsibility to respond. The Area Fire Department decided to stop responding to calls inside Tontitown beginning July 1.

Springdale is planning to stop dispatching calls outside the city soon. The projected date has been moved back to Jan. 1, 2015, according to Irwin. Tontitown has asked Central EMS service to dispatch its calls, said Kris Arthur, city chief for fire and police.

Tontitown would have to pay $20.50 per call for that service, Arthur said. The expected volume would be 160 to 180 calls per year, he said.

Other smaller fire departments in Washington County also use Central EMS for dispatch, said Becky Stewart, chief of the organization. The other departments don't have to pay for dispatching, she said.

"The other fire departments have been a part of our group since it started up, unlike Tontitown," Stewart said. "The other departments have helped us raise money and contributed to the growth of our equipment and facilities. We had to come up with some fair price for Tontitown to join."

Tontitown's cost, at 200 dispatch calls, would still be relatively small at $4,000, Stewart said.

"Our aim is for the switch-over to be seamless for the public," Stewart said.

Springdale's council also approved selling the old Police Department Criminal Investigation Division building at 206 Blair St., listing it for $495,000. The city bought the building for $300,731 and spent $174,585 on improvement. The building is occupied by the Public Works Department Community Engagement Division, said Brad Bruns, alderman.

That division will move to 210 Spring St. The council also approved spending $20,000 from the city's Capital Improvement Program for a new roof and other repairs on the building. The money from a sale of the Blair Street building would go into the Improvement Program fund.

NW News on 06/25/2014