El Campo’s SMU director resigned on Thursday, preparing to take up a private ambulance service post as the department grapples with weak collections.
Weston Davis, hired in July 2018 for $ 80,000 a year, had been the Harris County Paramedic Director for seven years before joining El Campo EMS. He replaced Chase Nielsen, a former city councilor who stepped down on October 7, 2013.
âI was looking for maybe bigger jobsâ¦ this one has a few hundred employees,â Davis said, adding that he would be LifeNet’s regional manager for Texas operations.
A âhelp wantedâ announcement will be published this week. “We review the job description internally before posting … We will be advertising through Texas Municipal League (TML) and other sites to improve our visibility with applicants,” said City Manager Courtney Sladek. “Although Weston will be missed, we wish him well in his new job.”
El Campo EMS is a city-owned and operated institution, its costs being paid for through a $ 1.2 million contract with Emergency Services District 4, a tax entity covering West Wharton County.
Despite the increase in the volume of COVID-19 calls, El Campo EMS collections have plunged in the past two years.
“It’s pretty much lower,” Davis told the Council during budget discussions. A good recovery rate, Davis told the Leader-News, is 45 to 70 percent.
El Campo’s EMS collections ranged from a low of 6.7% in July for insured patients to highs of 19.7% for private payers in April and July.
Medicaid collections between October 2020 and city budget discussions in July ranged from a high of 15.3% in May to a low of 9.6% in March.
In the city’s fiscal year 2022 budget, collections grow from $ 954,500 to $ 884,656.
Emergicon, hired in November 2013, makes collections. City Council switched from Prudentia in October 2013 due to a low collection rate of 43.7%, among other issues.
The city is looking for a new collection company. The effect Davis’s departure will have on the process is unknown. He predicts that a decision will be made in December.
During Davis’ tenure, the department grew from two to three fully equipped ambulances per shift when fully staffed.
A major achievement, he said, is that staff “train people below them to do the work of people above them … whoever comes in will have a solid foundation.” They won’t have much to do to fix what was broken.
When Davis was hired, “there was a lot of turmoil and decision making with the hiring of a new medical director,” he said, adding that the staff were now “cohesive.”
Davis’s scheduled departure date is set for late November, but the city may not be able to recruit as quickly. Accordingly, an interim administrator can be appointed.
Previous efforts by the city of El Campo to appoint a SMU director have been fraught with difficulties since Steve Appling retired in 2008.
Nielsen was the fourth person in a 12-month period to lead El Campo EMS on a full or interim basis.
Ben Altenhoff (now retired), Mike Giesalhart (now working for Wharton EMS) and Jimmy George Jr., still in the department, were other acting or full EMS directors.
The current Deputy Director of SMU is Garret Bubela.
Davis recommends him for the job. âI recommended to the city manager that I thought he would be able to be a good EMS manager,â he said.