Hamilton: EMS earns special government designation

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HAMILTON, Texas (KWTX) After months of working with the government, Hamilton Emergency Medical Service has received a first-in-Texas Critical Access designation from Medicare.

At its three locations in Hico, Goldthwaite and Hamilton, the service runs four mobile intensive care units at a cost of more than $300,000 each. (Photo by John Carroll)

"As far as we know we're the only EMS system in Texas to ever achieve Critical Access designation from Medicare," Hamilton EMS Director Patrick Cobb said Monday.

"The excitement comes because now we can recover 101% of those charges, which allows us to continue to invest in crews and staff, equipment, and trucks," Cobb adds.

Most rural emergency medical services and hospitals only get paid from 35% to 40% of Medicare bills, forcing the services to write off the remainder of the bill.

But with the new Critical Access designation, Hamilton EMS gets the money it needs and in turn provides top care.

"Currently we're running four full time mobile intensive care units with a full time staff of approximately 40 employees," Cobb said.

At its three locations in Hico, Goldthwaite and Hamilton, the service runs four mobile intensive care units at a cost of more than $300,000 each.

"In a community like ours, we may be 35 to 40 or more minutes away from a major hospital or trauma center so the patient care you get from us is actually longer and typically more in depth," Cobb says.

The Medicare Critical Access designation puts Hamilton EMS on strong financial ground.

"It allows us to be financially viable, which is something unfortunately in rural health care specifically is difficult these days."

Cobb says because of the designation, he can offer starting salaries of more than $55,000.