Walker County’s ambulance service, one of the few areas of county government that might be considered a success under Commissioner Heiskell’s leadership, will soon be no more: Today Fire Chief Randy Camp told his employees the ambulance unit is being sold BACK to Hutcheson.
- “Commissioner Heiskell has informed me she is in negotiations with Hutcheson Medical Center for the purchase of Walker County Emergency Services ambulance service. While nothing has been finalized, the Board of Directors [of Hutcheson] did meet yesterday and voted unanimously to move forward with negotiations.”
- “Because I have not been involved in (or even aware of) meetings discussing this, I have very little information about the transition. Commissioner Heiskell did advise that Hutcheson has pledged to absorb all current EMS employees into the new service. Any information, however, regarding pay, benefits, assignments, or take-over timeframe is not available to me at this time.”
- “Like I am sure you are, I was caught completely off-guard by this decision. I can only imagine how upsetting this is to those of you who came to us from the old Hutcheson system. I pledge to work hard to make this transition as seamless as possible when the time comes but I know that doesn’t mean it will be easy for any of us.”
- “I know you are all hard workers who care about the citizens you serve. To that end, I fully expect this news will not impact the patient care or the customer service you provide to the people that we serve.“
- “I would also ask for both your patience and your assistance during this time. This change will most likely create some issues with staffing through the transition period. I ask that you work with us as much as possible so that we can continue to provide the high caliber of care our citizens have come to expect.”
- “As this is an evolving process, I will do my best to keep you informed each step of the way. As information is made available to me, I will pass it along.”
- “Please know, from the bottom of my heart, I have enjoyed working with each and every one of you.”
Camp in this memo sounds not only surprised, but outright angry over the deal – because of its secrecy and the outright stupidity of selling a working public service BACK to the bankrupt, corrupt hospital it was purchased from in the first place.
The deal isn’t done yet, or wasn’t when this memo was sent out earlier today, but Camp knows what we all know: If Bebe wants this done, it’ll be done, because she’s a one-woman show and half the people in charge of Hutcheson are her people.
LU has been contacted by multiple county insiders questioning the logic behind this deal: Why sell the service BACK to Hutcheson, which nearly shut down ambulance service in the first place, when Hutcheson now is so broke it can’t even pay its current employees’ health insurance? HMC doesn’t have two sticks to rub together, so how do they plan to a) buy the ambulance service and b) cover its ongoing costs?
Walker County rescued the ambulance program and many of its employees from Hutcheson in the first place, then spent hundreds of thousands to upgrade and improve it. Now for what?
And why is Commissioner Heiskell engaging in sale talks with Hutcheson without first bidding out the sale (or requesting bids for replacement service) in public as the law surely requires?
More as this develops…