EMS upset to learn about possible change to Mid-Georgia

Ashley Biles Associate Editor

December 16, 2013

The Upson County Board of Commissioners discussed in a budget work session last week the possibility of changing the ambulance service contract for the county from Upson County Ambulance Service to Mid Georgia Ambulance in an effort to save the county over $300,000 a year. According to County Manager Jim Wheeless, the board had been speaking with the Upson Regional Medical Center, which owns Upson County Ambulance Service, about the cost of the contract that is currently $616,000 a year and if there is a chance the contract could be agreed upon for any lesser amount. Wheeless noted the board was told no by URMC. No official decision or change has been made as of yet, however, through all of these discussions, Upson EMS employees said they were not told of the possible changes.

“It’s not that we don’t like Mid Georgia because we do,” said Martha Anne McCarty who in addition to serving as B shift assistant supervisor with Upson EMS, works part time for Mid Georgia. “They are a wonderful company, that is not the problem. The problem we have is we found out about it when we read the newspaper. Nobody at the hospital informed us of what is going on.”

When asked, Upson Regional Medical Center CEO David Castleberry said, “Sometimes the news story gets ahead of actual events, and that’s what has happened here. The uncertainty projected in Tuesday’s paper is unfortunate for Upson EMS employees as well as the residents of Upson County. The county has not yet voted on a new ambulance contract, and we continue to work with Commissioner Blackston to ensure quality ambulance service for the residents of Upson County.”

McCarty continued, stating she understood what the commissioners were doing because they have to manage the taxpayers’ money and changing services may be the best way to accomplish that.

“We just felt like we were kind of pushed to the side so to speak. At least there could have been a little more notice or something a little more formal. Maybe just come tell us this before it gets published in the paper. Just some common courtesy, but that didn’t happen.”

When asked what the overall consensus was with the EMS employees, McCarty stated she could only speak for herself.

“Like I said before, Mid Georgia is a wonderful company to work for. They are a Christian based company and they have good people working for them and are financially sound,” said McCarty. “I can’t speak for anybody else, but there are some folks that are worried if they are going to have a job or not.”

Wheeless noted in the county’s discussions with Mid Georgia, they have stressed the fact of keeping the jobs of local people. He continued stating the company has told them as long as the employees meet Mid Georgia’s requirements they will be hired.

“Nothing has been finalized,” said Wheeless. “We are looking at this as a way to save some of the taxpayers’ money. Nothing is final on the contract or the agreement yet.”