Pocahontas County Commissioners Hear from Two Competing Medical Air Transport Companies.

An Air Battle over Pocahontas County?  Well, not quite, but two competing medical air transport companies addressed the County Commissioners at the May 19th meeting. Mary Rader of AirMedCare/Air Evac   presented their “Municipal Site Plain Insurance” program whereby all residents of Pocahontas County would be covered for all the costs above what their insurance might pay if they are medically airlifted to a trauma center or out of county hospital. These out of pocket   expenses could be very expensive since the average cost of an airlift is 18 to 25 thousand dollars, while the typical insurance company will only pay for 7 to 10 thousand dollars of that expense. The patient is billed for and is responsible for that left over 10 to 15 thousand dollars. If the County Commission agrees to purchase a plan, all residents of Pocahontas County will be covered if flown by Air Evac Lifeteam out of Pocahontas County. Residents who would like to upgrade to a full membership would be able to do so for just $35 per household. The full membership would provide coverage across the AirMedCare Network footprint, and it is a large footprint. Air Evac Lifeteam is the largest independently owned and operated air ambulance service in the United States, with 118 bases in 15 states. Air Evac Lifeteam has bases in Summersville, Beckley, Logan, Parkersburg and Wetzel County.

Another medical air transport company’s representatives also addressed the Commission with several warnings about purchasing the AirMedCare insurance program. Brian Doughty of HealthNet Aeromedical Services pointed out that under West Virginia law, the closest air frame will be dispatched to trauma scenes, and the patient has no say in which company will respond.    Doughty says that the AirMedCare Membership insurance will not cover transports from HealthNet Aeromedical Services or any other air medical transport. This means that if any air medical transport other than AirEvac responds and transports,  the patient will still be responsible for all those charges above what their insurance companies pay even if they had full AirMedCare Membership insurance.

Doughty provided the Commissioners with information about an alternative insurance provider which is not connected with either of these transport companies.  That company would provide only up to 10 thousand dollars coverage beyond what your insurance would pay, but would pay it no matter what air transport company flies you to a medical facility.

“The AirEvac Membership is exclusive to only their asset” said Doughty. “There is a product out there by Life Shell Alliance which covers every air medical provider anywhere. This pays up to 10 thousand dollars. So I just want to make you aware there are other options out there that will cover everybody in this County. The State law is that on any scene accident it’s the closest aircraft, it doesn’t matter who it is, but it is just the closest aircraft. With our base going into Lewisburg, we will be the closest to this area.”

Doughty says the Life shell Insurance would also cover Pocahontas County residents even if they had a tragic accident and needed air transport while in vacation anywhere in the U.S.  Doughty said the cost was about the same as the AirEvac Membership insurance.  He added that HealthNet Aeromedical Services does not own Life Shell Alliance

In other matters, the Commissioner’s Assistant, Sue Helton reported that she had received a letter from Clyde Thompson of the Monongahela National Forest stating that he had recently signed the Atlantic Coast Pipeline site survey document.

Laura Young of the Family Resource Network requested that the Commissioners agree to allow the Network to use about an acre of ground behind the ARC building to plant a community garden. Low income families would plant, maintain and harvest vegetables there. This nutritious food could supplement the food provided to the families by the Family Resource Network’s Harvest House Pantry.

The Commissioners voted to allow the use of the county owned land at that location as a community garden supervised by the Family Resource Network provided the Network provide the liability insurance for the venture.

Mike Cain, Courthouse Custodian came before the Commissioners to talk about removing the large damaged trees in front of the courthouse. Although the meeting agenda only considered removing 2 of the trees, the Commissioners asked Cain to obtain estimates for removing all six of the damaged trees and replacing them with other trees, possibly red maples or Dogwood trees. It was felt that since the damaged trees could present a danger by dropping limbs on people in the courtyard this would be prudent. Cain will bring the estimates to the next Commission meeting.

The Commissioners voted to accept the resignation of Tom Shipley from the Pocahontas County Public Service District effective on May 25, 2015.  They then voted to appoint Mark Smith to the remainder of Mr. Shipley’s term on the PSD Board.

The Commission’s Attorney Bob Martin reported to the Board that they are awaiting paperwork from the Board of Education to turn ownership of the generator located on the Marlinton Middle School campus to the Board of Education. Martin also reported that the Board of Education will be taking up the issue of releasing the deed restrictions on the property belonging to the County in the Green Bank Industrial Park at their next meeting.

The Commissioners voted to appoint Janet Ghigo, Bill McLaughlin, Donald McNeil, Alvon Ryder and Mayer Joe Smith to an advisory committee to assist the Commission in evaluating the applicants for the 911/Office of Emergency Services Director position. They set candidate interviews for an open special meeting of the Commission for 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, May 26, 2015.

They reviewed the six applications received for that position and eliminated two of them because the had indicated a minimum salary well above that being offered.  The remaining candidates are:

Shawn Dunbrack

Michael O’Brien

Alan Tracy

Randy Stemple

In a final action, the Commissioners voted to provide the Region 4 Planning and Development Council with a letter supporting their 2014-2018 economic development strategy update.

Story By

Tim Walker

Tim is the WVMR News Reporter. Tim is a native of Maryland who started coming to Pocahontas County in the 1970’s as a caver. He bought land on Droop Mountain off Jacox Road in 1976 and built a small house there in the early 80’s. While still working in Maryland, Tim spent much time at his place which is located on the Friars Hole Cave Preserve. Retiring in 2011 as a Lieutenant with the Anne Arundel County Police Department in Maryland, Tim finally took the plunge and moved from Maryland to his real home on Droop Mountain. He began working as the Pocahontas County Reporter for Allegheny Mountain Radio in January of 2015.

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