Cherokee Co., Alto, Wells reach agreement with ETMC EMS for ambulance service

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - East Texas Medical Center's EMS has worked out a deal with Cherokee County and the cities of Alto and Wells that will allow the southern part of the county to retain its ambulance service.

"For many years, ETMC has been able to provide ambulance service in many communities for free or for a small fee, but with the changes in reimbursements, we could no longer afford to provide this service, "Neal Franklin, general manager for ETMC EMS, said in a press release Tuesday.

As part of the new contract agreement, ETMC will subcontract with Blanket EMS out of Huntsville for ambulance coverage for Alto, Wells, and the unincorporated areas of Cherokee County, effective July 16. ETMC EMS will serve as the backup to Blanket EMS and will dispatch the ambulance service provider's calls.

According to the Cherokeean Herald, Cherokee County commissioners approved a proposal to enter into a new contract with ETMC EMS Friday. Under the proposal, the county would cover $57,600 of the annual cost of $190,000.

The press release from ETMC stated Alto would be expected to pay approximately $19,000 of the annual cost. Wells would pick up about $12,000 of the tab, according to Wells Mayor C.W. Williams. The cost for each entity involved in the new contract was based on a percentage of the population living in that part of Cherokee County, the press release stated.

"We are pleased we have been able to work with these communities to find EMS coverage for them," Franklin said.

Earlier this summer, East Texas Medical Center announced that because of cuts reimbursement from Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance, the regional healthcare system will be cutting its costs.

The deal had to be accepted by Alto, Wells and the Cherokee County Commissioners Court. If one of the three did not accept, the deal would have fallen through.

The main concern of residents and the council was not having an extension on the end of service date.

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