Benton County and four cities — Cave Springs, Decatur, Gentry and Highfill — have reached a preliminary agreement with Pafford Medical Services to provide Emergency Medical Services (EMS) to much of the western portion of the county. The agreement was necessary after the current provider, Northwest Health, decided to exercise an early termination of the current contracts, citing financial reasons.
The annual amount for the subsidy to Pafford Medical Services will total $1,512,000 per year for four years with the amount being split proportionally between the county and the cities. The agreement was reached after a Request for Qualification process was initiated earlier this summer and concluded with the preliminary agreement between Pafford Medical Services, County Judge Barry Moehring, Cave Springs Mayor Randall Noblett, Decatur Mayor Bob Tharp, Gentry Mayor Kevin Johnston and Highfill Mayor Michelle Rieff.
The preliminary agreement will now be considered by each of the cities’ City Councils and the Benton County Quorum Court before being finalized.
The agreement calls for at least three ambulances to be on duty at all times. Additionally, the financial terms of the agreement provide for coverage of out-of-pocket costs for emergency ambulance service. Medicare, Medicaid and third-party insurers would continue to be billed for service.
The out-of-pocket coverage is an additional benefit for the citizens of Western Benton County, potentially saving hundreds of dollars or more for those who use the service. The current contact with Northwest Health does not include this benefit.
Pafford Medical Services will take over service in January 2023 from Northwest Health, which is obligated to provide service until that time. Pafford Medical Services will soon open up a hiring portal to encourage local Paramedics and Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT) to apply for the new positions that will be created by this service.
“I believe the service that we are currently receiving will be met or exceeded by Pafford Medical Services. The company’s sole focus is providing emergency medical services,” said Administrator of Public Safety Robert McGowen. “Pafford is a leader in the EMS field and I welcome their expertise.”
“Pafford’s good standing with other Arkansas cities and more than 55 years of experience in emergency medical services will put Benton County residents in good hands,” said County Judge Barry Moehring. “I have full confidence that there will be no interruption in service to our residents as Pafford takes command of this contract.”
“Pafford Medical Services looks forward to providing Emergency Medical Services to Benton County. The foundation of our service focuses around the employees who provide front line patient care on board our ambulances,” said Clay Hobbs, COO of Pafford Medical Services. “As one of Arkansas oldest and largest providers of ambulance service we appreciate and value the trust placed in us to care for Benton County residents.”
“I am pleased with how the cities and county worked together to find the best possible ambulance service solution, with short notice. I do believe this joint RFQ process provided the best available solution, with no co-pay, or membership dues for our residents,” said Cave Springs Mayor Randall Noblett.
“I am very pleased we found Pafford Medical Services, Inc., as a new ambulance service provider. No co-pay and or membership dues is an awesome benefit for the Citizens of Decatur,” said Decatur Mayor Bob Tharp. “The new service is more costly to Decatur so I ask that the city will be supportive to the sales tax initiative on the general ballot November 8, 2022.”
“While we appreciate the level of high-quality patient care provided by ‘Northwest,’ we look forward, with confidence, to partnering with Pafford Medical Services to ensure the same level of care and services are delivered to our citizens with no delay or lapse in coverage,” said Gentry Mayor Kevin Johnston.
“Although, the City’s cost of providing ambulance service to our citizens will more than triple, we are glad that our residents will have no co-pay charges. Highfill is excited to collaborate with a quality, dependable company like Pafford to provide emergency services to our community,” said Highfill Mayor Michelle Rieff.