Starke County Council Approves Salary, Car for New Paramedic EMS Director

Starke County Commissioner Kathy Norem brought the Starke County Council up to speed on the work of the Advanced Life Support Committee at the Council’s recent meeting. Norem said that the ALS Committee hopes to have a paramedic chase vehicle in operation by the first of the year. She reviewed the time line of codes that have to be approved by the State before they can start. One is that I.U. Health Starke Hospital will agree to be the sponsoring hospital.

“They did talk to LaPorte because we’ve had a guy from the Indiana Department of Homeland Security also participating and attending,” said Norem. “This hospital can not provide everything educationally that we would need for paramedics. However, by collaborating with LaPorte, they can.”

Moving toward an Advanced Life Support would mean that higher charges could be submitted to Medicare and Medicaid.

“What we did before we got to that point is we took a look at twelve months of data by the code and applied what the reimbursement would be for Medicare for assessment only. Obviously when you have a paramedic involved they do an assessment and then anything additional is also charged. Just by looking at the assessment, under the codes that would have received paramedic had we had one, there is enough money there to offset the additional salary.”

Accompanying Kathy Norem to the Council meeting was Charlie Collins, who along with Kris Rannells, has directed the committee in the two year process. Norem and Collins talked about immediately hiring a paramedic as the EMS Director. The current Director, Lisa Burger, is not qualified to be a licensed paramedic. She recently retired to go back to ambulance work within the system. The pair said there would be a difference of $15,000 between her salary and that of a paramedic. Collins said minimum salary and compensation for a paramedic EMS Director would be $50,000 and a car.

“They felt this would be adequate compensation for a Director,” continued Norem. “I immediately said ‘I believe the Sheriff is going to get a new car, what about giving the retired car to this?’ and they felt that would be acceptable.”

Because of the necessity of moving as quickly as possible to get a Director on board, the Council approved the salary “bump” and car for the new hire. That was accomplished by altering the salary ordinance.