By Forrest Hershberger
Sidney Sun-Telegraph 

County Ambulance Contract Up for Review MARC Offers Ground Ambulance Service

 

March 21, 2018



The Cheyenne County Commissioners have an unexpected debate. A seemingly routine contract renewal will now involve a Request For Proposals and a writing of a proposed contract for ambulance service in Cheyenne County.

The Cheyenne County Commissioners agenda Monday included a review of the ambulance agreement. Present at the meeting was Jay Johnson representing Medical Air Rescue Company (MARC) and three representatives of Regional West Emergency Medical Services. Regional West provides ambulance service in Cheyenne County. According to the Regional West website, Regional West Medical Center established Emergency Response Care (ERC) in 2002 in response to a request from the City of Sidney, Cheyenne County and Memorial Health Care Center regarding a need for 911 services and inter-facility transports.

They also provide Air Link, the medical flight service. Air Link serves a population with a 150-mile radius that includes western Nebraska, eastern Wyoming, southern South Dakota and northern Colorado.

MARC recently began providing air services to the Western Nebraska community. The company is a South Dakota flight medical transport company with a chopper based in Sidney that, according to discussion Monday morning, also provides ground ambulance service. With that revelation, the commissioners decided to review the agreement and possibly rewrite the ambulance service contract.


“If someone else shows interest, we need to meet with them,” said commissioner Philip Sanders.

Under the present agreement, Cheyenne County supports the ambulance service at $119,779 annually and the City of Sidney at $71,383 annually.

Sanders said the commissioners need a better understanding of how the two air services and the hospital work together. He said he has received several calls from people with questions about how MARC works in relation to their existing membership plan and which service is called out for an incident. According to discussion in the meeting, the closest flight team is called out first for an emergency, regardless of the company. The exception is if a patient is capable of making a decision on what service is called.

Cheyenne County attorney Paul Schaub said the new agreement will need to address the presence of two air ambulance services. Commissioner Randal Miller said the new agreement needs to include changes in liability insurance as well.

Johnson said MARC has been in business since 1982. He said the company typically negotiates rates with a patient’s insurance company. However, because of the membership program with Air Link and the community interest in a membership program, MARC is working with an attorney to design a membership program.


Randy Meininger, Regional West EMS manager, said Regional West has been serving Cheyenne County since the 1990s first from the private sector, then through the hospital, back to the private sector before Regional West took it over. He said the company is committed to providing quality health care in the future.

“We need good healthcare. We need a good ambulance service,” said Sanders. “That is why I want to negotiate.”

Discussion at the meeting indicated the best idea is for the commissioners and city council to meet and discuss the ambulance contract.

 

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