Pike County Times

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PO Box 843, Zebulon, Georgia 30295. You can donate through PayPal at the link on the bottom of the page. Becky Watts: Phone # 770-468-7583 editor(@)pikecountytimes.com
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Update on Ambulance Service In Pike County
By Editor Becky Watts

ZEBULON - The Pike County Board of Commissioners and Grady EMS have gone back and forth about the ambulance contract since it went into effect on July 1, 2020. Pike County Times obtained written correspondence between the county and Grady that shows a flurry of written discussion that contained much disagreement on the number of ambulances, the amount that the county would be paying for ambulances, and even the legal exit date of Grady EMS.

[Note from the Editor: There is an update from 9.11.20 at the bottom of the page.]

The discussion about the ambulance contract had been ongoing on for some time. John Hanson has been mentioned several times in these emails because he resigned as county manager and was hired by Grady EMS. One of a series of emails between the county and Grady referenced a discussion about peak volume hours that involved County Manager Bobby Bickley who resigned last year. Discussion continued with County Manager Ron Alexander because the county asked for the documentation/figures that Vice President Bill Compton provided to him and a couple of the commissioners who had spoken with Grady representatives before the new contract for $350,000 was signed.

County Attorney Rob Morton said repeatedly that Grady was “obligated pursuant to the current contract to provide two 24-hour ambulances and one backup for the $350,000.00” as was written in the current contract that began on July 1. He also advised that if the county and Grady could not come to an agreement, he understood that Grady had agreed to provide two 24 hour ambulances as the county and Grady attempted to work through these issues.

Samantha Johnson, Senior Associate General Counsel for Grady EMS, disagreed and said that the contract signed on July 1 provides for one ALS ambulance 24 hours/7 days a week and one ALS ambulance 12 hours/7 days a week for $350,000. She advised that two 24 ambulances 24 hours/7 days per week would be $525,000 “as previously discussed.”

She also presented a subsidy of $425,000 that would provide one 24 hour/7 days per week truck and one 12 hours/7 days per week truck along with one paramedic quick response vehicle (QRV) that would be able to respond (but not transport) from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and one Saturday/Sunday QRV that could respond when the 12 hour transport ambulance is off duty. She advised that the paramedic could respond to calls and provide care until the transport truck could arrive.

On July 16, Johnson advised Morton by email that it was Grady’s intention “to work with the County to find a solution that works for both parties.” She further advised however, that if the terms are not acceptable to the county, Grady understood that the county could go out to bid for the services.

On July 28, the Board of Commissioners made the unanimous decision to send the contract back out for bid. Grady EMS was invited to be a part of the rebidding process but declined. Counsel for the county and Grady EMS exchanged email around July 29 in which Morton advised Johnson that emails between the county manager and Grady seemed to confirm that Grady would continue to provide the current level of ambulance service (two 24 hour ambulances staffed 24 hours per day) through the end of August.

On August 24, 2020 (the day before the Tuesday night Commission meeting), Johnson clarified Grady’s position regarding the contract, the notice period, and the termination of services. In that email, she advised that even though Grady signed a renewal with Pike County on May 13, 2020, Grady’s position was that Pike County rendered that contract void when it made the decision to put the ambulance service back out to bid. She also advised that they had sent correspondence indicating that service would end on August 30, 2020 but would be willing to continue the transition period through September 30, 2020 at the current rate with only one 24 hour truck and one 12 hour truck. She added that Pike County could negotiate the amount if it would prefer two 24 hour trucks through the transition period.

The latest email that Pike County Times received in this open records request was written on Monday, August 24, 2020 at 4:31 p.m. in which Morton replied to Johnson’s email and advised that Pike County and Grady EMS entered a new contract that was effective on July 1, 2020 and Grady began performing according to the terms of the agreement including moving into the Zebulon Fire Department facility. “The discussions that have occurred between the parties since July 1, 2020 were in connection with the differing interpretations (of the agreement),” Morton wrote. He also advised his disagreement with Grady’s assertion that placing this back out for bid “rendered that renewal void” as Johnson had previously written.

In the commission meeting on Tuesday night, commissioners voted to reject the current bids because both were over the $350,000 that the county had budgeted for ambulance service and put the ambulance contract back out to bid. Both of the bidders were encouraged to join in the current bidding process that will close on September 8th at 5 p.m. Sealed bids will be opened in the September 9th meeting.

Commissioners were advised that the transition from Grady EMS to whoever is chosen as the new ambulance service could be as little as 30 and as many as 90 days. It was said that they are anticipating November 10 but working as quickly as possible to get a new ambulance service here in the county.

[Note from the Editor: Pike County Times was advised by CM Rogers after the September 10, 2020 Special Called Meeting of the Pike County Board of Commissioners that there had been a meeting between the county and Grady in which Grady said that they were exiting the county. Their final day will be October 31. Pike County will continue to pay Grady the $350,000 agreed upon in our current contract. Pike County has also verbally agreed to Grady's interpretation of the contract based on metrics (One 24/7 truck and one 12 hour truck from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.) and is allowing them to run their service as they see fit.]

Click here to read "BREAKING NEWS UDATED: Commissioners Decide on County Manager and the Ambulance Contract."

Click here to read "BREAKING NEWS UPDATED: Commissioners Advise Their Constituents that Pike County Will Have Two Fully Staffed 24 Hour Ambulances." Readers can read an actual copy of the current ambulance contract on this page. These articles begin at the bottom of the page starting on June 30, 2020 with the article entitled, "BREAKING NEWS: Are Changes Going to Be Made to the Grady Contract?"