Decatur County Commissioners voted 5-1 Monday night to tentatively transfer operation of the county’s ambulance service to Grady EMS of Atlanta, Ga., pending drafting and approving a contract at a future commissioners’ meeting.
Billy Walker, CEO of Memorial Hospital in Bainbridge, spoke at the start of Monday’s special called meeting, asking commissioners not to choose a private EMS service that was associated with a hospital. Walker said he was concerned Grady EMS’ parent company, Grady Health, or another hospital might capitalize on the private EMS decision to start up other health care services in Southwest Georgia, thus competing with Memorial Hospital. Memorial Hospital is a public hospital, operated in part by county taxes with the rest coming from service-generated revenue.
County Commissioner Russell Smith was the only commissioner to vote against the Grady EMS proposal. While he said the Grady EMS proposal looked good on paper, Smith said he was mindful of Seminole County Commissioners’ earlier vote to select Mid-South Ambulance of Macon, Ga., to provide private EMS services. Seminole County commissioners had made that decision in April, contingent upon what Decatur County commissioners decided, as Seminole County looked for a joint, private EMS service.
Decatur County commissioner Dennis Brinson made the motion to go with Grady EMS, seconded by Chairman Frank Loeffler. Commissioners Jan Godwin, Oliver Sellers and Butch Mosely also voted for Grady EMS.
After the meeting, Decatur County Administrator Gary Breedlove said Monday’s decision did not preclude a partnership with Seminole County from happening. Breedlove said he understood Decatur County commissioners made their choice on what they believed was best for Decatur County’s financial situation, but he said he thought there were aspects of the Grady EMS proposal that Seminole County might find favorable if they give it a second look. Breedlove said he planned to continue talking with Seminole County officials about joining onto the ambulance service operated by Grady EMS.
County Commissioner Butch Mosely participated in the meeting via telephone.
Full video of Monday night’s meeting, including a comment from Memorial Hospital CEO Billy Walker, brief discussion among county commissioners and the vote itself (5 to 1):
In addition, here are some Sowegalive.com interviews recorded after the conclusion of Monday’s meeting:
1) Monty Bullock, Decatur County EMS Shift Supervisor, been with EMS 18 years – for private EMS in general
2) Billy Walker, CEO of Memorial Hospital – not opposed to private EMS but opposed Grady EMS bid because they are associated with a hospital