Rusty Blackston givesBOC’s side of EMS issue
Ashley Biles Associate Editor
Much discussion has gone on in the community as of late over the fate of the Upson Ambulance Company, and the possibility of the company being sold to Mid Georgia Ambulance. In reference to that matter, Upson County Board of Commission Chairman Rusty Blackston issued the following letter Tuesday to the citizens of the community:
“First and foremost, let it be known that Upson County DOES NOT own or manage the Upson Ambulance Company, LLC, nor does the county employ anyone who works for this company. The only connection the Upson County Board of Commissioners has with the Upson Ambulance Company, LLC is to help support the ambulance service through Upson Regional Medical Center.
“Having said that, in June of this year the Board of Commissioners began planning a budget for the year 2014. A contract from the Upson Regional Medical Center was submitted for the Board of Commissioners to consider for the year 2014. This contract was in the amount of $616,000.00 with a three percent increase each year for three years just to have ambulance service in Upson County. In trying to save the taxpayers’ money, I personally contacted Mr. David Castleberry, CEO of Upson Regional Medical Center, to try to negotiate a lower price to continue ambulance service due to a decline in revenues in the county. Mr. Castleberry said there was no way for him to go any lower than the amount submitted. I explained to him there were two other companies that wanted to bid for the ambulance service contract at a much lower price. Mr. Castleberry recommended the Board of Commissioners look in that direction. We contacted Mid Georgia Ambulance Service and Metro Ambulance Company to obtain bids from them, realizing Upson Regional Medical Center had no intention of negotiating a lower price. Mid Georgia Ambulance followed through with an offer to provide services with a savings of $316,000.00 to the county.
“Another approach was made to Upson Regional Medical Center to plead for some help. The answer was no. Upson Regional Medical Center and Mid Georgia Ambulance have negotiations in progress at this time to transfer the assets of Upson Ambulance Company, LLC to Mid Georgia Ambulance Service.
“I then began to inquire about the financial reports and budgets to see if it would be feasible for Upson County to buy and run the ambulance service. Mr. Castleberry could not give me a sale price due to the disclosure clause in the agreement between Upson Regional Medical Center and Mid Georgia Ambulance.
“At my last meeting with Mr. Castleberry, I asked for an extension of 90-180 days with Upson County’s current contract, and Mr. Castleberry recommended the County of Upson go with another provider other than Upson Regional Medical Center.
“On December 10, the Upson County Board of Commissioners met with a large number of Upson Ambulance Company personnel and discussed their concerns. I have since met with other employees to try to find a way to salvage Upson County Ambulance Service.
“As I write this, the final decision lies in the hands of the Upson Regional Medical Center and its Board as to the sale of Upson County Ambulance, LLC. A meeting of the parties is set for Wednesday, December 18, 2013.
“No contract has been signed between Upson County Board of Commissioners and Mid Georgia Ambulance Service.
“The Upson County Board of Commissioners feels a duty to see that its citizens have access to emergency medical services and we await the decision of the Upson Regional Medical Center so we can plan our course of action.”
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