Gibson, Air Methods contract highlight meeting

  • Retired Barnwell County Treasurer Wendy Gibson (right) is presented a plaque by County Council Chairman Lowell Jowers.
  • A ceremonial signing of the Air Methods contract and presentation of shirts was one of the highlights of the Barnwell County Council meeting.

Two ceremonies were high points of the meeting of the Barnwell County Council Tuesday, Sept. 19 in Barnwell.

The council honored former County Treasurer Wendall P. “Wendy” Gibson Jr. and held a ceremonial signing of a contract with Air Methods.

Council Chairman Lowell Jowers presented Gibson with a plaque and a gift from the council. He also read a resolution which noted he has worked for the county from July 17, 1989 until August 31, 2017 “in various capacities and positions.”

Over the years he has served as an assessor, interim county administrator, and county treasurer.

Jowers said the resolution recognizes Gibson upon his retirement “and expresses appreciation for his many contributions” to the county.

Gibson said, “Thank you. I appreciate this very much.

In the ceremonial signing of a contract between Air Methods and Barnwell County, the entire council participated with the exception of Councilman David Kenner who was absent from the meeting.

The Barnwell County Council in its 2017-18 approved the allocation June 29 to provide air medical transport for Barnwell County residents. Air Methods will receive $56,000 for the annual contract which was signed and went into effect August 14.

Air Methods is the largest air medical transport company in the nation and services Barnwell County patients who need to be flown to medical facilities by helicopter or fixed-wing aircraft.

The contract provides a “membership” to Barnwell County residents which allows that if a resident is flown by Air Methods then anything not paid by a resident’s insurance is “covered” – no additional bill is sent. This contract is for Barnwell County residents only but extends to wherever that resident may be if they are flown by Air Methods.

If a patient is flown by another air ambulance company, the county membership does not apply and the patient is responsible for the bill which can exceed $50,000 for one trip, according to information previously provided.

Anna McCollum of Air Methods said, “We are really honored to be in a formal partnership with you” and noted that Barnwell County is one of four counties which have provided full-county coverage for their residents.

She related that the agreement has already paid off for the family of one resident. “About one week after this contract was signed we had a gentleman who had to be flown out of this county.”

Although the patient “didn’t make it”, she said, “We were able to get him to the hospital and provide him with the highest level of care. Currently, if he had not had the membership you guys signed, his family would be paying a $56,000 bill right now. But because of the membership, his family does not have to worry about that now.”