Sumner Regional Plans to Give Up Operation of DeKalb EMS

June 25, 2007
by: 
Dwayne Page

Sumner Regional Medical Center, which has been operating the DeKalb County Ambulance Service for several years, will soon be ending it's agreement with the county.

County Mayor Mike Foster told the county commission Monday night that Sumner Regional is \"going out of the ambulance business\".

The decision the county commission will have to make within a few weeks is whether to contract with another entity to run the local ambulance service or for the county to once again assume the operation of it.

Sumner Regional Medical Center is currently under contract with the county to operate the ambulance service for $163,000 per year, and the county, which owns the ambulances, buys a new one each year. Sumner Regional rents the ambulance service building for $600 per month and had agreed to rent the new location for $1,500 per month.

Foster says the county will have ninety days to make a change once the official notice has been received from Sumner Regional, but the county commission may want to act sooner \"We've had conversations with two new groups (interested in the ambulance service). I have also requested the paperwork, including audits, etc of the Sumner General operation, of which we are entitled, to see how the expenditures and revenues were. Within the next 30 days we will need to decide either on a new contract (with some other group) or whether the county wants to go back into the ambulance business. I have talked with Smith County and Overton County. They are running their own (ambulance services). One of them is actually making a couple hundred thousand dollars a year on theirs. I know the ones of you who have been on the county commission a lot longer than I have been here don't want to revisit that (county operating the ambulance service) but we may want to look at that. All the ambulances that are here are owned by the county and the building is owned by the county, so we're in a good position. We can either negotiate a contract with another company or we can go into business. I don't yet have a strong feeling either way, but I think we need to look at it from all aspects and see what is the proper thing that we need to do. If we get the proper people to run it and the proper people to collect the bills, I think it might be a positive thing (for the county to run it). Otherwise, it might be a very negative thing.\"

The county commission, earlier this year voted to exercise an option to purchase the old Fina Market building at the corner of South Mountain Street and Meadowbrook Drive as the future home of the DeKalb County Ambulance Service. The purchase price of that building was $125,000.

Foster says Page Brothers Construction has been doing the renovation work on the new building. \"The contract was awarded to Page Brothers to do the work on the ambulance service building that they're moving along with that. We hope to be ready to move in it in two or three months.\"

The ambulance service, for the last several years, has been located on Highway 56 north in Smithville but Foster says the building is too small for today's needs and is in need of repair.

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