Private firm takes over ambulance operations

Published 5:00 am Thursday, April 21, 2005

Monticello is out of the ambulance business, but so is LawrenceCounty Hospital.

Emergystat Inc., based in Vernon, Ala., began providing LawrenceCounty’s ambulance service Friday morning after signing a contractwith the hospital Thursday.

“This is what they requested,” said Clanton Dubose, Emergystat’schief operating officer.

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Adding Lawrence County to its list of service areas will helpthe ambulance company provide better emergency service over a broadarea, he said.

“Lawrence County ties Pike and Simpson counties together,” hesaid. “We know it’s not a big operation, but with Simpson and Pikecounties nearby it’s better than getting a county off byitself.”

The company took over operations at Southwest MississippiRegional Medical Center in McComb earlier this year. LawrenceCounty Hospital is owned by the county but was leased more than ayear ago to Southwest Mississippi Regional Medical Center.

With the lease signed by Lawrence County Hospital on Thursday,Emergystat now has all of SMRMC’s contracts, Dubose said.

Lawrence County Hospital had two ambulances, but only one was onshift at any given time. Those ambulances have been leased toEmergystat.

Dubose said the company will continue to operate one ambulancein the county but ambulances in Pike and Simpson counties, whicheach run three, would be on call when needed. When the LawrenceCounty ambulance is in use, an ambulance from one of the othercounties would move to the county line to assist should a secondemergency arrive.

“I think the service will be better because we’ll have a backupambulance,” he said. “We’re glad to have our service there, and wehope to improve the level the service they’re used to.”

Lawrence County Hospital had been using nurses as paramedics,Dubose said, and this will help lighten their load. The ambulanceswill now be staffed by a paramedic and a driver.

“We took on all the employees that wanted to come with us,” hesaid. “Our policy is to use existing employees, especially thedrivers.”

Lawrence County operations will be managed by Charles Welch, acounty resident who also manages the Simpson County operations.

Dubose said he was surprised when hospitals officials called himlast week because he also thought the town was going to take overthe operation.

“We thought (the city) was because once we took Pike County (thehospital) began contacting us, but (the hospital) said they wantedto hold off to see what the city would do,” he said.”

Lawrence County Hospital’s contract with Emergystat stunned cityofficials.

The hospital and Mayor David Nichols had been negotiating forthe town to possibly take over those operations and a decision wasexpected to be made Tuesday night during a meeting of the board ofaldermen.

Nichols opened the topic Tuesday saying only that “On ourbehalf, it’s a mute issue.” He then notified aldermen of thecontract between the hospital and Emergystat.

A brief pause and very little discussion followed theannouncement.