County to Vote on Taking Control of EMS

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Bay Medical Center has operated the ambulance fleet and emergency medical services for decades, but now that Sacred Heart is leasing Bay Medical from the county and is operating as a for-profit facility, commissioners feel everyone is best served by a neutral party running EMS.

"The real thing here is we got two private hospitals, we need to make sure that it's run fair and that if someone is going to make money on this thing, then it needs to be the county," said commissioner George Gainer.

According to one study, it might.

The study, requested by the county, says they could make anywhere between $600,000 and $1 million, however officials at the Clerk of Court's office say the decision will cost the county.

Commissioners disagree, saying the set up used in the clerk's model is different than what they will be using.

"This is set up the way Bay [Medical] had it set up, to where it was a payer use or user pay, and that's what we're setting up," said commissioner Mike Thomas. "We have never thought of using a tax subsidy and the others that were used in the opinion is a tax subsidy."

As for patient care, commissioners say residents won't see many changes aside from the name on the side of the ambulance, however there are talks of an integration of ambulance services and firefighters.

"Most counties around are switching to an EMS where the fire and ambulance services are integrated and I hope we're heading in that direction," said Thomas.

If commissioners approve the takeover, the county expects things to be running by August 1st.