“The question is, can an entity that has served this community for 70 years without costing residents remain self-sustaining?”

~Antioch Village Board Trustee Mary Dominiak

 

By Gail Peckler-Dziki~Correspondent

The consensus at the end of the April 9 meeting was that progress had been made and solid information gathered. Members of the First Fire District and the Antioch Village Board agreed that it was a first – financial data from the Antioch Rescue Squad (ARS). And it was a good thing.

The committee compared ARS actual numbers to estimates created by Antioch Fire Chief John Nixon if the fire department was to take on all rescue calls, including transport.

The actuals that ARS Chief Brian DeKind presented represented six months of 2012, from July to December. The ARS is using the services of Andres Medical Billing service and information collected by that company showed 745 transports for the six-month period, with an overall collection rates of 40.41 percent. The average collected for each trip is $326.79.

One factor is that ARS collects only what Medicaid will cover for those clients. If a client had Medicare, Medicare covers 80 percent of what it deems the fee to be, with the client paying the remaining 20 percent, if they can.

Since the ARS depends heavily on community giving, the company department usually receives only what the insurance company will pay and doesn’t attempt to collect any co-pay.

That practice is putting the income of the ARS at $700,000 a year, with expenses of over $1 million. That is a loss of over $300,000 and that is using unpaid volunteers during night and weekend hours.

Numbers estimated by Fire Chief Nixon show that if the fire department handled all rescue, the fire department would also lose money and more than the loss at which the ARS now operates. Part of that comes form the fire department using paid on call and also having to lease ambulances. While ARS spends $310,000.00 on personnel costs, the estimated cost for the fire department is $455,520.00.

Antioch village board member Mary Dominiak commented that the committee now ha good information but keeping it on a 90-day extension schedule “casts a black cloud” over things. She suggested a one-year contract with benchmark goals and dates.

“If at any time, those goals are not reached,” she said, “the contract could be terminated.”

The current 90-day contract with the village is up on May 19. That’s less than 40 days away. Dominiak said that when a business makes a major change, “its not done overnight. These changes we are considering are big ones and we want to do this right, not fast.”

Village board member Dennis Crosby warned that, “There are already two board members who say they will not agree to any more extensions. We need to do something else.”

Dominiak said that she believes enough progress has been made and “there is enough brain power in this room that we can change votes.”

She pushed to keep the focus on what lies ahead and what is needed for the future. “The question is, can an entity that has served this community for 70 years without costing residents remain self-sustaining.”

It was determined that the ARS uses part of the Dolly Spearing donation each year. DeKind said that the department is hesitant to be too vigorous in collecting from residents since the community is so generous with donations. The costs for non-residents and the collections are different for non-residents.

Crosby, Dominiak and village administrator Jim Keim all talked about the future needs of having more than three ambulances available for service. Matt Tabor, from the First Fire District, mentioned that putting an ambulance in the Grass Lake facility would be a good idea.

“It’s hard to get from the department on Holbeck Drive in six minutes,” he said. “The longer it takes for the ambulance to arrive, the more people will die.”

Crosby suggested that the group come up with questions regarding what more information and changes are needed and meet together to give that direction to the ARS.

The next meeting is scheduled for Monday, April 22 at 7:30 a.m. to present questions to ARS and the fire department, planning to have answers for future needs and funding issues ready to present to the Antioch Village Board at the May COW meeting scheduled for Wednesday, May 8 at 7 p.m.

 
 

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