(04/13/2013)
Following a scathing audit on Calhoun Emergency Ambulance Services by the state's EMS Technical Support Network, creditors wanting to be paid for services, ambulances not working, and the revelation of critical management problems for several years, the Calhoun Commission is facing how to provide ambulance service for the county.

One issue, according to the state auditor, is a continuing Calhoun EMS problem regarding the payment of withholding taxes for their employees, in addition to a backlog of debt that could reach as high as $100,000 and a current operating budget that cannot be supported.

Also at issue is the replacement of worn out ambulances, with Calhoun EMS having a poor credit rating, which also affects agencies from issuing grant monies for ambulance replacement.

During a commissioner meeting Wednesday, newly appointed Calhoun EMS director Danny May made a presentation to the commission asking for time to re-group the service, while a state auditor March Tucker says it is highly unlikely that the service can be salvaged.

May told commissioners he should not be held responsible for the failure of the previous administrator.

Tucker, in a report to the commission, said that the service is "In such disarray, that (he) can't make sense of the records."

Calhoun EMS would not provide financial records to the commission until the intervention of state auditors.

Minnie Hamilton Health System presented a proposal to provide the service to the county, including operating a second station in the Arnoldsburg area. MMHS has an advantage providing the service, as a Critical Access Hospital they receive "cost base reimbursement," a higher rate than Calhoun EMS.

MHHS has said they will employee most of the current EMS workers.

MHHS has provided support services to Calhoun EMS in recent months, including obtaining a $50,000 grant to meet payroll and loaning MHHS ambulances, the agencies ambulances are essentially worn out.

MHHS CEO Steve Whited said, "We have worked with Calhoun EMS and have continued to work toward what is best for the community."

Whited said MMHS would need the county Emergency Services Levy money redirected to them to assist in purchasing new ambulances and equipment.

Commissioners expressed concern about how Calhoun EMS could pay their debts owed to local and regional businesses in the event of their closure. EMS Director May say the agency has accounts receivable that would remediate the issue.

The commission is reviewing written proposals from both agencies and will likely make a decision regarding services on April 16.

The commission is responsible to see that ambulance services are provided to county citizens.


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