UPDATE 8/28/2017 - Minnie Hamilton Health System is saying they hope to maintain ambulance service to Calhoun through December 31, 2017.

MHHS CEO Steve Whited said that ESP, a private ambulance firm with which MHHS had sub-contracted, pulled out of the county on August 20.

Whited said, "MMHS will continue working with the commission to establish sustainable and reasonable coverage through a separate entity other than MHHS."

"MMHS us doing all that we can to cover services and working with several agencies to assist in scheduled transport services," Whited said.


8/25/2017 - Reports say that a private ambulance provider ESP has pulled their services from the county in the past few days.

Minnie Hamilton Health System had contracted with the private provider after they were suffering financial problems operating county ambulance services.

Minnie Hamilton Health System has taken the ambulance service back for a limited time to provide continuing services.

ESP manager Don Delaney did not return a phone call to clarify the ESP position on service to Calhoun.

Calhoun Commission President Chip Westfall said the commission is looking at every option to provide ambulance service to the county.

"We are having a number of meetings looking at the limited options," Westfall said, indicating that a number of rural counties are struggling to financially provide the service.


8/13/2017 - Calhoun's ambulance service problem is lobbing along, with ESP Ambulance now pulling back from their announcement to cease service in the county.

Minnie Hamilton Health System, which had subcontracted the service to ESP, following meetings with the Calhoun Commission, said they were willing to take-back and provide the service for a limited time.

"I can't comment on ESP's position, they continue to cover, and we are awaiting additional communication and response from them. We are prepared for resuming operations if necessary,"" MHHS CEO Steve Whited said.

ESP manager Don Delaney did not return a phone call to clarify the ESP position on service to Calhoun.

Apparently ESP backed away from their ceasing service deadline and is continuing to provide the service for the time being.

The providing of ambulance service in WV's rural counties remains a serious problem, linked to a small population and financial stability. By Bob Weaver

7-26-2017 UPDATE - The future of quick access ambulance service will likely become a real challenge for the Calhoun Commission, with county citizens likely expecting the service without increased taxes.

Commission President Chip Westfall said, "The commission is looking at all options to provide the best ambulance service possible with the money that is available."

Since Minnie Hamilton Health System has indicated they will be providing stop-gap services until a new provider is found, the hopes of maintaining 24-hour crews and ambulances remains uncertain.

Commissioner Kevin Helmick said, "The levy money was reduced by $40,000 at MHHS CEO Steve Whited's request to the county commission, opting to give that portion to the the prosecuting attorney for a full-time salary. Whited said Minnie Hamilton didn't need it because they would reimbursed at a much higher rate."

Unfortunately, MHHS and other rural hospitals were denied the higher rate of reimbursement.

"From talking to other commissioners and EMS directors it is going to be tough to maintain the current level of service with the amount of money we have available," said Westfall.

It is not likely that county voters would pass a new Emergency Services Levy to provide adequate service, although the cost to taxpayers is relatively low.


7-25-2017 By Bob Weaver

Minnie Hamilton Heath System CEO says, "We are still in the process of trying to figure all of this out," referring to ESP Ambulance pulling service from Calhoun.

MHHS had sub-contracted with ESP to provide ambulance service. "It does not look as though they plan to honor the 90 day out clause, but we are still working on this," said Whited.

Whited said he was not sure of the effective date of the ESP departure.

With the service essentially going back to MMHS, Whited indicated the future of the service is uncertain.

"We are planning, making arrangements to take the service back on if necessary. We will take on providing the service, but will try and transition this out through other opportunities. We have meetings set up for other possible solutions," he said.

"We cannot take this back on for an extended amount of time (more than six months) under current reimbursements."

The cost of providing ambulance service far exceeds the income generated, including funding subsidized from the county taxpayer Emergency Services Levy.

ESP says it is losing $35,000 monthly.

"My opinion is that the levy needs to be tripled, but this is highly unlikely. Service levels (staffing) and the volume levels dropping has been the major issue. Calhoun is a relatively large county to cover," Whited said.

Whited says he hopes to know more in the next few days after ESP communicates with him and "we work up a plan of action."

The Calhoun Commission had designated MHHS as the ambulance provider after Calhoun Emergency Ambulance Service defuncted, MHHS saying at that time they could be reimbursed at a much higher rate as a rural hospital.

That higher rate did not happen.


7/23/2017 - A private ambulance service that was contracted by Minnie Hamilton Health System has advised they are pulling their operations from Calhoun.

ESP, which has services in several West Virginia counties, can no longer sustain their local operation, according to Julie Sears, Calhoun OES/911 Director.

Sears said residents are assured that a continuity of service will be made, with Minnie Hamilton Health System re-assuming the operation.

Sources told the Herald that ESP was leaving the county Monday, but that could not be confirmed.

Minnie Hamilton Health System will regain control of ambulances they leased to ESP.

Calhoun Commission President Chip Westfall said seeing that ambulance service is provided to the county has always been a major priority.

Ambulance service in rural counties has become a significant financial liability.

ESP's focus was on transports, which are financially productive, with sources saying that 911 or emergency services are not a money maker.

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