The Somervell County Commissioners Court voted unanimously Monday to approve a program Fire Chief Mark Crawford said would provide more effective and efficient medical services — at a lower cost.
The program is known as the Community Paramedic Program. It’s targeted for residents who tend to call 911 frequently seeking medical attention, sometimes resulting in ambulances being called multiple times a week to the same address for non-emergency situations.
It will involve paramedics making trips to residences to check on those who have been the most frequent medical 911 callers.
Crawford said the program will start immediately, “possibly alleviating the need to call 911 and reduce the strain on the 911 system — and improve their quality of life.”
Because it should cut down on some of the 911 ambulance calls, Crawford indicated that adding the program shouldn’t result in added costs.
“This will save money for the citizens, reduce unnecessary use of 911 resources, and help alleviate non-necessary use of our emergency room,” Crawford stated in an email to the Glen Rose Reporter.
During Monday’s meeting, Commissioner John Curtis asked if Crawford anticipates the program would end up creating greater expenses in the long run.
“I can’t think of any,” Crawford said. “I’ll come to (the commissioners) if there are any additional costs.”
Crawford said the visits will be targeted based on recommendations from the Glen Rose Medical Center, as well as previous local 911 medical calls.
Megan Pankburst, a firefighter engineer and veteran paramedic with the Somervell County Fire Department, will implement the program.
“She is compassionate, detailed and caring for those citizens who will benefit from a community paramedic program,” Crawford said. “She already knows most of our patients who result in having to use the 911 system for non-emergency needs and will hopefully be able to help them avoid situations that could become serious.”
Crawford explained that many rural communities use similar programs in ways that depend on their own needs and resources.
The commissioners approved the program by a 5-0 vote.
Another county budget workshop will be held, probably during the fourth week of August, according to County Auditor Brian Watts. A public budget hearing is tentatively set for either Sept. 11 or Sept. 18, he noted. It will be posted on the Somervell County website.
Also by a 5-0 vote, the commissioners approved the proposed tax rate of .46159 (per $100 of valuation). That rate, if approved in the commissioners’ final budget vote later this month, represents no change from last year’s tax rate.
Other highlights from Monday’s Commissioners Court include:
Charles Boswell, director of the Tarrant Area Food Bank in Fort Worth, addressed commissioners on the topic of Hunger Action Month. He presented a proclamation for Hunger Action Month that the commissioners approved, 5-0. The Tarrant Area Food Bank covers 13 counties in North Texas and serves approximately 53,000 people. The commissioners voted by a 5-0 count to extend the appointment of Hank Jones to the Pecan Valley Centers for Behavioral and Developmental Health Care for two years, starting Sept. 1. They also voted unanimously for the reappointment of Marty McPherson as director of the Prairilands Groundwater Conservation District Board. His four-year term will expire in August 2021. The Sheriff’s Department’s school resource officer contract with the Glen Rose Independent School District was unanimously approved for the period from Sept. 1, 2017 through Aug. 31, 2018. The GRISD Board of Trustees also approved the new contract, during its July 24 meeting. Commissioners, by a 5-0 vote, approved a contract for $14,530 already budgeted in the upcoming fiscal year for a contract with Motorola Solutions with the Somervell County Sheriff’s Department to have access to a technical advisor in case there is a malfunction of the 911 Dispatch console. The contract means that a technical advisor will be available by phone, or can be called out to make repairs if necessary. Doug McClure, from the IT Department with the GRISD, spoke to the commissioners about a weatherproof Samsung digital video screen (55-inch diagonal) that he had was considering for purchase, to be installed on the front of the County Annex Building on Vernon Street. It will be intended to post local election results, as well as other messages for residents such as meeting times, burn bans and other news. The fully enclosed screen features a thick version of Corning Gorilla Glass and comes with a 3-year warranty. The purchase of the screen, for $8,344, was approved by a 4-1 vote. Curtis was the lone vote against the purchase. The low bid of $68,250 from Granbury-based Drone Roofing and Construction for a roofing contract for the county-owned Squaw Valley Golf Course was approved, 5-0. County Auditor Brian Watts presented information on the financial statement audit for the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2016, and the commissioners approved the audit, 5-0. Watts noted that the auditors look at the county’s purchase policies, bids, asset acquisitions, investment policies and insurance policies, among other areas. “They go into all aspects of our business,” Watts said. “We’re a strong financial statement because we have no debt to speak of.” Doug McClure with the GRISD returned to the podium to recommend upgrading computers in the District Clerk’s Office, from Windows 7 to Windows 10 as a first step before the old format becomes obsolete. He said that Windows has announced and “End of Life” date for Windows 7, and noted that the purchase of seven computers for $7,553 this year would “get us started so we’re not under the gun all at once” in the next fiscal year. The commissioners approved the purchase by a 5-0 vote.