By Lynda Jones, Editor-in-Chief
The provision of ambulance service for Houston County will be addressed by the Houston County Commissioners Court in a special called meeting at 10 a.m. Monday, Jan. 5, in the Commissioners Courtroom at 401 East Goliad Ave. in Crockett.
East Texas Medical Center Emergency Medical Services (ETMC EMS) announced last month it will end its service to the county on March 14. ETMC EMS also is terminating its service in Trinity County.
The agenda includes the following items:
• Review the state of the Emergency Medical Services within Houston County.
• Discuss and consider action on providing authority for the county judge to
a. Negotiate a contract to provide professional and technical guidance to ensure the quality and timely replacement of EMS service providers and ensure continued coverage for the citizens of Houston County.
b. Contact and negotiate with the current and replacement EMS service providers should the need arise.
c. Contact and negotiate with other entities and agencies concerning optimization of the service.
d. Contact and negotiate with the Houston County Hospital District (HCHD), City of Crockett, Houston County Emergency Services District #2 (ESD #2) to ensure cooperation, support and agreement on responsibility.
During the Dec. 23 Commissioners Court meeting, Houston County Judge Erin Ford and Houston County Attorney Daphne Session reported the county legally cannot impose a tax or issue bonds for hospital purposes or to provide medical care for HCHD residents.
The HCHD currently collects $.03/$100 valuation for hospital purposes and medical care for indigent district residents. Ford also reported that ESD #2 cannot fund/provide mobile emergency medical services unless an election is held and voters approve adding that capability to its charter.
According to the state statute governing the HCHD, the hospital district may operate or provide for the operation of a mobile emergency medical service (ambulance service).
Also, the statute states the HCHD Board of Directors may contract with a political subdivision of the state (Houston County is a political subdivision of the state) or with a state or federal agency for the district or for any lessee of the district's hospital facilities to:(1) furnish a mobile emergency medical service; or (2) provide for the investigatory or welfare needs of district inhabitants."*
There has not been a regular meeting of the HCHD Board of Directors since the ETMC EMS announcement. The next regular meeting (according to the normal HCHD meeting schedule) will be Tuesday, Jan. 20 at 5:30 p.m. in the ETMC Crockett cafeteria.
*Source: Special District Local Laws Code, Title 3. Health, Subtitle A. Hospital Districts, Chapter 1078.)