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Commissioners Address Concerns For New Ambulance District

They want a smooth transition, but there are still a lot of questions to answer before Buchanan County takes over its ambulance service next July.
(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) Buchanan County Commissioners know it's getting closer to a big change for ambulance services.

Earlier this year, Heartland Hospital, now called Mosaic Life Care, announced it would no longer provide that service, so the county will take over next July.

"[It will be the] same service, same quality service, that's what we want to keep," said presiding commissioner RT Turner.  "That's what our pledge was, and we're hoping we can do that."

In one of the first meetings since voters approved a new sales tax to fund the county-run ambulance district, a consultant addresses commissioners' concerns.

"He was just here to kind of start discussing the transition and how that will work with billing.  And with the medical director and how that's going to work by July 1," Turner said.

Paramount in the transition is that it goes as seamlessly as possible, with one noticeable change:

"The name.  They'll see a different name on it.  Billing will be a little different.  Other than that, the name change is hope anyone will really see," Turner said, acknowledging that the county has not officially decided on what the ambulance service will be called.

But currently, the commissioners have a number of concerns still to address.

Here are some of the bigger ones that came out of the meeting:

  •    How many people to have on the board of directors
  •    How billing will work in the new system
  •    How the new health care law will affect ambulance service
  •    Their plan to lease employees from Heartland, at least for the first year

"It's to give stability to the employees that work.  They need to know they'll have a job by July 1," Turner said, noting that the commissioners will meet with Heartland (Mosaic) officials early next week.

The commissioners acknowledge that it will be a slow, step by step process to transition to the new service.

But as someone at the meeting noted, "It'll be July before we know it."
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