Put people before money

Published 5:24 pm Thursday, October 10, 2013

John Pack’s attitude toward providing emergency medical services in the Belhaven area when Vidant Pungo Hospital closes is admirable. No, it’s more than admirable. It’s honorable.

Pack, Beaufort County’s director of emergency services, is putting people’s lives ahead of the fiscal bottom line. He gets it.

“The bottom line is we need an ‘H’ designation in order to haul patients, get paid for it. And also to consider a facility that replaces the current Vidant Pungo facility, it’s going to require the ‘H’ designator. Without that, we’re not going to be able to get reimbursed for taking patients there. It doesn’t mean we won’t take patients there if it’s going to extend their life or we have a good chance to save their life,” Pack told the Beaufort County Board of Commissioners earlier this week. “Regardless of whether we’re paid or not, if there’s a capability there to save somebody’s life, we’re going to stop there first and then do whatever we need to do,” Pack noted. “Bottom line: some people seem to think when I’m talking I’m only worried about money. Money is money, but lives are more important than any dollar amount we put on it.”

Amen and amen.

Pack’s not only worried about EMS patients, he’s also worried about EMS personnel, especially volunteer EMS personnel. He knows that longer turn-around times are coming for those EMS personnel who mainly work in the Belhaven area. In a few months, they’ll be transporting patients to Vidant Beaufort Hospital instead of to the Belhaven hospital. Those longer transport times will result in “wear and tear” on their EMS vehicles and higher fuel costs because they will be traveling longer distances. But Pack knows those longer transports will take their toll on the EMS personnel and their families. Pack knows the EMS vehicles cannot go anywhere unless there are qualified people to drive them.

For Pack, when it comes to the bottom line, people come before money.

He gets it — and that’s good for Beaufort County and its people.