At the recent Governmental Affairs Committee (GAC) meeting, Brett Peine, LifeNet Area Director, shared that the Village recently renewed LifeNet’s contract, which took effect on January 1, 2023.

LifeNet is a non-profit organization, and because of this, any profits earned must be invested back into the company. This strengthens the company and allows for the purchase of better equipment to improve customer care.

LifeNet began operating in Hot Springs Village in 2009. There are 19-full time LifeNet personnel in HSV, with six paramedics and nine EMTs. Peine said, “We run three ambulances 24 hours a day, seven days a week, as a minimum [in HSV]. The Village has approximately 5,600 service calls annually, resulting in around 3,000 transports. Many ambulance calls are for helping people to their vehicle, helping people up (from a fall), and stand-by calls.

To make certain that the staff is up-to-date with the latest knowledge and equipment, in-house training is done in Hot Springs. Also, all trips are reviewed to ensure quality care is provided.

LifeNet is stationed at three locations in Hot Springs Village:

  1. Calella Station -114 Los Lagos Way (This is the only LifeNet station in HSV that is not housed within a fire station.)
  2. 110 Cortez Road
  3. Balboa Station – 430 Ponce de Leon Drive

Having three locations in HSV allows for faster response. Being located within the fire stations helps to build camaraderie with the fire department. The close relationship with the firefighters is beneficial to LifeNet.

How do we decide where to take the patients?

Peine said, “We like to go by family choice. (This should be within the usual service area.) As a general rule, we will take the patient where they need to go.” There are guidelines for deciding where the patient should be transported. The guidelines used in determining the drop-off location are:

  1. The safety of the patient and crew.
  2. The patient’s condition. Every hospital has different capabilities; some handle certain emergencies better than others. “Our goal is to take the patient to the closest appropriate facility,” explained Peine. Taking the patient to the nearest facility that can handle the emergency is appropriate for life-threatening conditions.
  3. Nonlife-threatening emergencies are based on patient or family choice.
  4. Trauma victims go to a trauma-designated facility. Certain guidelines exist for a facility to be designated as a trauma facility. There is funding attached to trauma facilities.
  5. The ambulance company must call Arkansas Trauma Communications Center, which determines the appropriate transfer facility.

Air Medical Utilization

The following items are considered when determining whether to use LifeNet Air:

  1. Mostly, a helicopter is used when there is a time-critical diagnosis to get to a specialty care facility. Examples are heart attacks, strokes, major trauma, and sepsis.
  2. LifeNet Air started in 1983. Currently, LifeNet Air partners with Air Methods Corporation, which operates different air programs worldwide. Air Methods provides the aircraft, pilot, and mechanic and do all the billing. We provide all the clinical resources, including the flight paramedic, flight nurse, and medical equipment and supplies.
  3. The flight teams are comprised of critical care paramedics and nurses. Specialized certifications are required for this job, and they have more experience with specialized equipment than non-flight ambulance personnel.
  4. All aircraft carry blood products.
  5. With aircraft transfer, there is no worry about winding roads, traffic lights, or construction.
  6. When the 911 call comes in, it is quickly determined whether to use LifeNet Air. Sometimes it is faster to travel by ground.
  7. The Village does not offer the best landing zones for air transport.
  8. LifeNet Air probably flies only a handful of patients out of the Villager yearly.

Patient Cost

“We work to take care of people,” stated Peine.

“Until the first of last year, there are horror stories about a patient being flown and receiving a $30,000 bill that their insurance company did not cover (or more). We may have saved their life, but we burdened them with this extreme financial burden for the rest of their life,” explained Peine.

In January 2022, the No Surprises Act went into effect. “This changed the game for Air Medical providers,” said Peine. This act protects the patient from exorbitant out-of-pocket expenses. (See pdf below.)

Air Methods implemented a Patient Advocacy Program to work with patients and the insurance company to get the flight costs paid by the insurance company. Portions of the cost may be written off. The average out-of-pocket expense for LifeNet Air is $156. Since the No Surprises Act has gone into effect, there have been no out-of-pocket expenses over $500.

Patients may receive an initial bill, but all they need to do is call the telephone number on the bill to start lowering the bill.

No Surpises Act Quick Look

Community Outreach

“One of the special things about the Village is the community outreach. While we have always had a lot of community outreach, it has almost doubled since the placement of Matt Scroggins, HSV Operations Manager, in 2022. Some of the community outreach programs are partnering with churches for educational programs. LifeNet also partners with the HSV Police and Fire Departments for community learning events such as CPR training, Stop the Bleed, and Fall Prevention.

EMS Fee on Utility Bill

We all pay an EMS fee on our utility bill, giving all residents and residential family members with a water meter the advantage of a resident benefit program. LifeNet accepts whatever insurance pays as payment in full for ground transports, with a few caveats. If you have an unmet deductible or copayment, the patient is responsible for that. If the insurance denies services as a non-covered service, Villagers get a 40% discount.

Dave Snavely, the President/CEO of LifeNet, was also present at the GAC meeting.

By Cheryl Dowden