Squad issues being cleaned up

Published 8:00 am Friday, April 22, 2022

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Following a troubling two months, the Charlotte County Rescue Squad (CCRS) appears to be turning its financial woes around.

On Monday, April 11, the Board of Supervisors (BOS) held a work session with members of the rescue squad to hear how things have progressed since a change of leadership occurred last month.

Sally Pyle, who has been involved in the EMS field for many years, was recently hired by the rescue squad to handle billing for Medicare, Medicaid and insurance.

During the work session, Pyle presented her findings just after working with the squad for two weeks.

“Things I found wrong were calls not being consistently approved,” Plye said. “I found 73 calls just setting on the computer being ready to be billed dating back to July.

Pyle said she found calls sent to billing without insurance information, and not all of the call sheets were being picked up from the hospital, nor had the three required signatures to bill.

“They’re still using paper call sheets. I have to input their call into the computer system when they get back to the station.” Pyle said. “Some of them were not being entered into the system at all, and calls were sitting open on the computer, not finished.”

According to Pyle, when it comes to billing, the squad is in a good position now with all calls up to date and being billed.

Supervisor Walt Baily, who serves on the BOS Public Safety Committee, said that the committee had very open communications with everybody on the squad. “I say this is a very positive thing … we’re starting new.”

Newly elected captain Matthew LaMotte also addressed the BOS, speaking of staffing issues.

“We need members,” he said. Staffing is a big issue, and surrounding counties are offering better pay and benefits.”

According to LaMotte, in talking with squad members who have left, pay was the most significant factor in them leaving.

“We need people … this will take time, but we are working on membership now.”

Also, during his address, LaMotte said he wanted to be very transparent with the BOS as to what was happening with the rescue squad. “If you need to know something, I will get you the answer,” Lamotte said. “You may not like the answer, but I will get it for you.”

Trouble began for the rescue squad in February when then captain Bill Mayhew addressed the board asking for $50,000 to $80,000 in additional funding.

According to documents from the rescue squad provided to the BOS, the squad’s 2021 operating budget was listed at $963,900.00 with over $1 million in expenses. Included in their budget was over $200,000 in a PPP Loan.

Documents show the squad in the red for over $200,000.

In addition, Mayhew said to run three crews a day, five days a week, and two crews on the weekend; CCRS spends $12,600 a week on salaries, with members working anywhere from 48 to 60 hours a week.

Since the February meeting, several CCRS members have resigned, including Mayhew and CCRS President Phillip Staten.