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Ambulance district to cover smaller area

The Macochee Joint Ambulance District will now cover a smaller area and serve fewer people in northern Champaign County.

Macochee, which provides only emergency medic services, has finished negotiations with township officials on setting its boundaries.

It will cover a total of 89 miles and about 6,400 residents in Champaign and Logan counties. That means it will serve 27 percent less ground and about 20 percent fewer residents than it did in previous years.

As a result, the city of Urbana will extend its coverage area in Concord and Salem twps. Rosewood will increase its coverage area in Harrison Twp.

Jeremy Keller, a spokesman for Macochee, said trustees in Harrison and Salem Twp. declined to formally join the ambulance district. But they have agreed to contracts that allow Macochee to continue to provide EMS coverage for a portion of those townships.

In Harrison Twp., Macochee will cover all addresses on Ohio 245 to the east of Springhills, as well as all areas to the north of Ohio 245 and east of Springhills. It will also cover all areas east of Wesley Chapel Road, but not including addresses on that road. Areas previously covered by Macochee will be covered by Rosewood.

Macochee will also provide coverage for the northern third of Salem Twp., south to Lippencott Road, Short Game Farm Road, Sibley Road and Kennard-Kingscreek Road. The city of Urbana will provide coverage to areas no longer protected by Macochee EMS.

The agreements with Salem and Harrison twps. are for one year.

“We think we’ve come to a mutually beneficial agreement with those townships,” Keller said.

The contracts with the two Champaign County townships are based on a combination of direct payments from the townships, combined with increased patient billing rates. Keller said the district charges $750 per ambulance run, and residents in those townships will be charged through their insurance.

If insurance doesn’t cover the whole cost, patients will be billed directly. If residents are unable to pay for the service, the townships will be required to cover those fees.

Residents who live in Logan County who pay a Macochee levy won’t see any out of pocket costs for medic services.

In Salem Twp., the one-year contract with Macochee is for about $26,000, said Rick Clyburn, a township trustee. Initially, Macochee had wanted the township to pay $126,000 for ambulance service. But Clyburn said that figure is more than the township paid previously for fire and EMS service combined.

Instead, Clyburn said township officials negotiated with both Macochee and the city of Urbana for a more affordable agreement, in which the city will cover more territory than in the past.

In the meantime, several townships are conducting a study to determine the cost to create a new fire and EMS district. Once the results of that study are available, Clyburn said, it will allow the township to decide what steps to take for future years.

“This is just a one-year contract to get us through this study,” Clyburn said.

In Harrison Twp., Trustee Joe Buck said the township’s contract with Macochee for one year is about $3,600. The cost could climb, however because the township is also responsible for any bills that residents are unable to pay under the agreement. Rosewood will also pick up territory previously covered by Macochee.

The Macochee district was formed last year to take the place of the former West Liberty Emergency Medical Services. West Liberty and Logan County voters narrowly approved a 3.5-mill levy to create a more professional service that could deliver better response times and a more consistent level of care.

Several Champaign County townships and other areas not covered by the levy had received services historically from the district and can continue to for a charge. Those include portions of Salem, Harrison and Concord twps.

When the levy was proposed, Keller said, voters were told contract areas who don’t pay the levy would be charged the full 3.5-mills for the improved coverage, but that also meant costs dramatically increased for the Champaign County townships.

Mark Keller, chief of the Urbana Fire Division, said the city’s EMS will pick up the coverage areas in Concord and Salem Twp. no longer covered by Macochee. Salem Twp. agreed to a 0ne-year contract for $24,533, while Concord Twp. agreed to a three-year contract for $9,000 in 2013. That figure will increase to $10,821 in 2014 and $12,067 in 2015.

The city already provides EMS coverage to a large area outside the city limits, so the new territory will not pose any significant problems, Mark Keller said.

Overall, the additional coverage area will lead to the city covering about an additional 60 EMS runs a year, Mark Keller said. It will also provide about $35,000 in revenue this year for the Urbana Fire District.

While the coverage areas of the Macochee EMS and West Liberty Fire Department have traditionally been the same, Jeremy Keller said that will no longer be the case. The West Liberty Fire Department will continue to cover its historical area.

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