The Gonzales County Emergency Services District #1 (ESD) and Gonzales County Emergency Medical Services and Rescue (EMS) have announced they will be merging under the ESD organization.
“The reason for that is because we’re going be eligible for a lot more charges, a lot more money, indigent care, which we get nothing for right now,” ESD President Rene de la Garza said.
De la Garza said around 45 percent of the calls the EMS receive are from patients considered indigent. Medically indigent adults are uninsured and are not eligible for other health care service such as Medicaid, Medicare or private health insurance. De la Garza said the EMS “does not collect anything on those.”
“Once we put the EMS under the guise of ESD, then we’ll be eligible for those funds plus other funds that a 501c3 is not eligible for, and that’s what the EMS is,” de la Garza said.
The ESD is a governmental entity and has access to income streams and discounts not available to the privately-owned EMS. By consolidating the two entities into one, the group hopes to streamline efficiency and save money.
The EMS has been beset with financial woes recently and some of the ambulances in the EMS fleet have declined with age. Though de la Garza did not say the board was prepared to announce if layoffs were coming, he did comment on how he personally feels the EMS is “a little overstaffed.”
“In my opinion, that’s just an opinion, I don’t have any facts yet, I think we need three ambulances plus an extra one. We have five right now,” de la Garza said. “I think with four, we can do just fine.”
De la Garza said that the ESD would not be cutting the rescue division of EMS.
“Even though the fire department has rescue, we also have rescue at the EMS. It’s kind of redundant, but better to have too much than not enough,” de la Garza said.
With the restructuring comes a new EMS director. Eddie Calendar took over as EMS director on May 1. Calendar took over the position from Allan Linebrink, who will remain with the EMS and serve as a day-to-day manager.
The next planned ESD meeting is scheduled for May 16.