The proposal from Sacred Heart Health Systems is overall a great opportunity for the citizens and visitors of Franklin County, with the transitioning of the current facility from a hospital to an urgent care clinic. The new building and services offered will be better suited for the needs of the county.

But placing EMS under a management group is a poor decision. EMS currently operates in the black, and with the new urgent care that Sacred Heart is proposing, EMS will no longer be able to transport any patient to the new clinic, EMS can only transport patients to a designated emergency department. With Sacred Heart on the Gulf being the next closest hospital, an additional 20 miles will be added to every transport, bringing the average bill up over $240 in mileage charges before insurance adjustments. Conservatively, the additional mileage should generate about $115,000 in billing revenue. With EMS currently operating in the black and with the additional revenue for longer transports, why pay a management group to run EMS when it can easily be operated under the board of county commissioners as a department of the county?

If EMS was operated under the board of county commissioners, it would allow them to obtain the well-deserved FRS retirement and benefits which would also allow EMS to not only be fully staffed but would keep employees for the duration of their career and would also cut nearly $80,000 a year in overtime costs. Why should the citizens of Franklin County have to pay for a management group to operate EMS when it is currently profitable and will gain more revenue with the proposal by Sacred Heart?

Further, accepting the hospital board’s recommendation to accept our current EMS director’s resignation when he was told it was negated, is wrong. Michael Murphy is competent and qualified. Why lose a valuable EMS director who wants to stay on in that capacity for the tax-paying citizens of Franklin County.?

Steve Kirschenbaum