The North Hays County Emergency Service District No. 1 has moved forward with a new contract with its current emergency service provider.
Earlier this month, the San Marcos Hays County EMS signed a new service contract with ESD 1, which was the culmination of a year-long process to “assess the needs of the district and develop a new cost effective, performance-based contract,” according to a press release.
“It is very exciting for us because we feel this is a significant step forward for the district and resulting service to our citizens,” Walt Krudop, president of the ESD 1 board of directors, said in an emailed response.
The effort to develop the new contract for EMS services for ESD 1 began in December 2015. According to the release, the ESD began discussions with Emergency Service Consulting International (ESCI) to provide structure and resources to develop a process to include a request for proposals (RFP), analysis of the proposals and ultimate structuring of the contract.
According to the release, the purpose of engaging ESCI was to incorporate in the contract the most “up-to-date concepts in state-of-the-art EMS services to the District.”
ESCI also helped develop the RFP and to process the proposals that the District did not internally have. ESCI had just completed the Master Plan for the District and was intimately familiar with the challenges and needs of the District.
In January 2016, a contact was signed with ESCI and work began developing the framework for the contract requirements that would form the basis for the RFP.
With ESCI, a number of community and related agencies were interviewed and the elements of the contract were formulated.
“It was a clear objective from the early stages of the process that the District wanted to transition from a service level contract to a performance-based contract,” according to the release.
The RFP was published in July and the district received three bids, which included the North Hays County Fire Rescue, SMHCEMS and Acadian Ambulance Service.
According to the release, the North Hays County Fire/Rescue Department was not financially affordable. Bids from Acadian and SMHCEMS were within the district’s budget.
After a vetting process, the board selected SMHC EMS for the new contract in October.
Specific elements and performance requirements of the contact were negotiated with SMHC EMS.
The new contract provides “sufficient resources” in ambulances and staff to assure the “highest level of advanced life support care within a definitive response time at a reasonable, competitive cost,” according to the release.
One of the most significant aspects of the new contract is the emphasis on performance with tracking of patient outcome statistics, patient care and call response times divided into zones to realistically optimize response.
The new contract provides improved monitoring and reporting of patient care and outcome and financial performance with monthly and annual reporting.
SMHCEMS’s new contract also will have quarterly reviews of expenses, revenues and the budget in order to view any financial trends.
“In the past, significant increases in the annual contract cost has caused funding and tax rate problems for the District, the new contract calls for advanced warning of any increases above 4% of the current contract,” according to the release.
Joint strategic planning by SMHCEMS, while being done informally in the past, is now formalized in the new contract.
According to the release, the cost to ESD 1 is “affordable” over the term of the contract and is less than the current cost.
Long term issues such as the projected growth in the district with attendant increase in EMS service and capital equipment along with ambulance and crew housing have not been addressed and will be the next focus for the District.
What’s the difference?
The cost for the first six months of the contract, the balance of the current fiscal year, is $515,026, a reduction from the current level by 6.4%. The subsidy increases each succeeding year by 2.9%.