JUDGE: Milam County Medical Task Force gives report
On April 26, 2021, the Milam County Commissioners Court commissioned a Milam County Medical Task force to investigate three chronic medical issues in the county: the economic feasibility of after-hours and/or urgent care in Milam County; the economic feasibility of adding another ground ambulance to the existing AMR and PHI ambulance service in the county; and the feasibility of using the existing Rockdale Hospital building and medical clinic for medical or other services.
The Task Force met every two weeks beginning in May 2021 and heard from 13 different presenters, including hospital providers, ambulance providers, medical providers and many more.
The Task Force was composed of eight members, including: Mr. Collier Perry, Rockdale businessman; Mr. Nathan Fuchs, Cameron Chamber of Commerce; Mr. Kain Dodd, Fire Chief Milano; Pastor Royal Johnson, Pastor Rising Star Baptist Church; Mr. Troy Zinn, former hospital administrator; Mrs. Courtney Paulson, Nurse Practitioner, Country Meadows; Mr. John Egger. President EBCO; and Mr. Robert Kirkpatrick, Executive Director, Milam County Medical Department.
On Dec. 14, 2021, the Task Force rendered its final report and made the following recommendations:
a. It is not economically feasible to pursue after hours or urgent care in Milam County;
b. An emergency service district should be created (taxing entity) to pursue improvements in ground and air ambulance services in the County; and
c. It is not feasible to use the existing Rockdale Hospital and/or medical clinic for medical or other services.
Task Force Chairman Collier Perry made a presentation to the Commissioners Court on Monday, Dec. 27, explaining the recommendations in detail.
Mr. Perry explained that after-hours and/or urgent care was simply not economically feasible in Milam County. Further, without major and costly renovations, the Rockdale hospital building could only be used as a hospital. Finally, rural hospitals are simply not profitable.
With respect to creating an emergency services district, the issue would have to be placed on the November 2022 ballot and the final decision made by the voters of the County. Currently there are three 24/7 AMR ambulances operated in the County, which are stationed in Milano, Rockdale and Cameron. The ambulances are subsidized by an annual $350,000 contribution, including $150,000 from the county, $100,000 by the city of Rockdale and $100,000 by the city of Cameron.
The next step is to determine if the county should provide the service or continue to contract with a provider, such as AMR. If the decision is made for the county to provide the service, the start up costs and daily operational costs for four ambulances must be determined. All of these issues will be considered and recommendations from the court will be made soon so that the voters can make an informed decision.
We thank all of the members of the Task Force for their hard work and dedication. Clearly, they all put a lot of effort into their extensive investigation.