Commission Discusses Calhoun County EMS Fate

Calhoun County currently has two E-M-S providers including the local hospital and the non-profit agency of Calhoun County Emergency Services. Now, with financial concerns, the County Commission is looking for possible alternatives for the non-profit agency.

Calhoun EMS says the community will lose the quality service they now have.

"Honestly, to us, we feel disrespected," says a seven year veteran of Calhoun EMS, Lt. Sabrina May.

Paramedic and operations manager, Danny May says this shouldn't be how it is. "Now it just feels like the commission is making us beg to do our job and it just hurts... Badly."

Their services are described as second to none...but the Calhoun county commission is ready to put emergency services on life support.

As of right now we haven't been able to come up with a long term plan to stabilize everything," says Commission President, Kevin Helmick. "It's just kind of been a month to month thing and that's the reason we need to consider all options."

"We are not ready to close the doors," says the Director of the County EMS Service, Josh Johnson. "We are not going broke. Are things tight, yes. Financially they're no worse than they've ever been"

But the Commissioners say the problem is only getting worse.

Minnie Hamilton Hospital provides the other EMS service. It's the only other option out there.

"Both organizations, Minnie Hamilton and County EMS, we have an obligation to the community to provide the best health care services we can," explains CEO of Minnie Hamilton Hospital, Steven Whiten. "If that's through collaboration, if that's through the critical access reimbursement plan, a combination there of, we need to look and explore all opportunities."

The hospital offered a plan suggesting a collaboration or the hospital just taking over countywide.

"If they provide service to the county from the hospital they would be open to receive higher reimbursement than what we do as an agency for medicare and medicaid," says 17 year veteran of County EMS, Lt. Bobby Wade.

Now Minnie Hamilton's CEO says if they do take over they'd need more paramedics.

"We don't feel, even though they say there's a possibility of a position, that there won't be," says Wade.

Sabrina May agrees, "IF they would hire us, yes it is possible however most of us have worked there before, on a personal level, I don't feel it's sustainable."

"It would almost be an insult and its nothing derogatory towards the hospital, if we're not good enough to serve with our agency, then let the hospital hire whoever," explains Danny May.

Commissioners say it's not personal, it's financial. County paramedics have a different diagnosis.

"One of the County Commissioners has a vendetta against us," says Wade

"This is what it boils down to," continues Sabrina May, "it's politics, it has nothing to do with finances."

No official proposal has been heard. The commission has asked for a proposal to be submitted by the hospital before next months meeting, followed by a rebuttal letter from Calhoun County Emergency Services.


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