Skip to content Skip to left sidebar Skip to right sidebar Skip to footer

Commission chooses MedicOne

Barring any complications, the company providing ambulance services to Unicoi County will not change come April 1. The county’s current contract for ambulance service was set to expire that day. Failure to sign a contract before that date would have left the county without an ambulance service.
During a regularly scheduled meeting of the Unicoi County Commission on Monday, Feb. 23, the panel voted 7-2 to give Unicoi County Mayor Greg Lynch and County Attorney Doug Shults authorization to enter into a contract with MedicOne Medical Response, the company that has provided ambulance service to the county for the last four years.
Voting in favor of MedicOne were commissioners Gene Wilson, Glenn White, John Mosley, Marie Rice, Gene Wilson, Jason Harris and Bridget Peters. Voting against MedicOne were Walter Garland and Kenneth Garland.
This vote came at the recommendation of the Unicoi County Commission’s Ambulance Committee, which opened MedicOne’s bid on Thursday, Feb. 19.
During that meeting, the committee and several other commissioners reviewed MedicOne’s bid and asked questions of Daryl Gibson, vice-president of corporate business development for MedicOne.
The request for proposal approved by the County Commission earlier this month, bids should include two proposals – one for a single centrally-located EMS station, the other for two station locations (in Erwin and Unicoi). MedicOne’s bid includes both.
For the centrally-located station, the annual subsidy the county would pay to the company is $132,000, which should be paid monthly. For two stations, the annual subsidy was just short of $196,000, to be paid at approximately $16,300 monthly.
The county’s previous contract with MedicOne required the county pay an annual subsidy of $180,000.
Also included in the bid was a commitment by MedicOne to cap net profits earned in Unicoi County at 10 percent.
“We are not in the business of maximizing profits to the detriment of the patient and the communities that need our service,” the bid states. “Any profit within the Unicoi County operation collected above 10 percent will be returned to the taxpayers of Unicoi County.”
During the Feb. 19 meeting, Mosley asked Gibson if the company plans to buy a new ambulance to serve Unicoi County.
“Immediately,” Gibson said. “We already have it ready. It’s just a matter of where we’re going to place it. Each year thereafter, a new one will be purchased.”
The bid also states that MedicOne will house a minimum of four ambulances in the county and staff at least two advanced life support (ALS) ambulance units 24 hours a day.
All current county employees and management will also be retained, according to the bid.
“Most of our current staff members have remained employees of the numerous ambulance providers that have circulated through Unicoi County and are intimately familiar with local roads, areas, landmarks and protocols,” the bid states.
The county’s previous contract with MedicOne stated that the county would provide quarters for the ambulance service. This was omitted from the latest RFP, meaning MedicOne will be required to provide its own quarters. The company has purchased land on North Main Avenue in Erwin, but has not started construction of a building. Gibson said last week that the company will have a central location established until a new building is constructed. He said the company might use FEMA trailers for the quarters.
“Whatever we have to do to make it work,” he said.
Also included in the RFP is a clause which allows the county to renew the contract for an additional four years at the end of this contract for an amount that does not exceed the subsidy, if any, awarded in this contract.
County Attorney Doug Shults said this was included in the contract in order to avoid the situation the county found itself in when determining whether or not to renew its contract with MedicOne.
• • •
During the Commission meeting on Monday, Walter Garland made a motion that the county rebid the ambulance service.
“I think we are being taken,” he said.
However, this motion did not receive a second.
Harris, who chairs the Ambulance Committee, said the committee chose to recommend MedicOne’s proposal for a centrally-located station and an annual subsidy of $132,000 to the Commission.
Walter and Kenneth Garland both expressed their desire to have the contract come before the Commission in March after Lynch and Shults negotiate with MedicOne so the Commission can give final approval.
Shults advised against this and reminded the panel that changes, if any, would only be minor.
“If something goes awry in March, you may not have an ambulance service provider,” he said.
“I’m not voting until I read it,” Kenneth Garland said.
Thomas then made the motion to give permission to Lynch and Shults to enter into negotiations with MedicOne within the guidelines of the RFP, draw up a contract and get it signed. This was seconded by Mosley. The panel then voted 7-2 in favor of Thomas’ motion.
In addition to voting on the county’s ambulance service provider, the Commission had a full agenda on its plate during a regularly scheduled meeting on Monday, Feb. 23.
For the second time, the panel opted to table the vote on a resolution to increase the number of school board members from six to nine.
Voting to table the resolution were Thomas, Mosley, White, Wilson and Kenneth Garland. Rice, Harris, Peters and Walter Garland voted against tabling the resolution.
After much debate, the board also voted to commit $100,000 during the next two years to capitol projects to be used as a match toward various grants for the installation of a waterline in the Rocky Fork area and Rocky Fork State Park.
This measure passed 7-2, with Kenneth Garland and Loren Thomas voting no.
In other business, the Commission:
Passed a resolution authorizing the issuance of general obligation refunding bonds of Unicoi County from 1997 and 2008.
Passed a resolution authorizing issuance of general obligation refunding bonds of Unicoi County from 2006.
Approved the use of Temple Hill Road on June 6 for the bicycle race time trials hosted by the Tri-Cities Road Club.
Voted to opt out of the State Minimum Building Codes program.
Approved the appointment of Ed Herndon to the Unicoi County Ethics Committee. Also serving on the committee are Glenn White, Marie Rice, Bridget Peters and Paul Berry.