Ga. county chooses new ambulance service
Atrium Health Navicent EMS is replacing Grady Emergency Medical Services in Milledgeville and Baldwin County
By Billy Hobbs
MILLEDGEVILLE, Ga. — Atrium Health Navicent EMS has been selected to provide emergency ambulance service in Milledgeville and Baldwin County for at least the next five years.
The company is affiliated with Atrium Health Navicent, The Medical Center in Macon and part of the Atrium Health Inc. family of hospitals headquartered in Charlotte. The hospital in Milledgeville, Atrium Health Navicent Baldwin, is owned by the same parent company.
Commissioners unanimously voted during a called meeting Tuesday night to award the new EMS contract to Atrium Health EMS over four other companies in the running.
For the past several years, the emergency ambulance service has been provided by Grady Emergency Medical Services, which is affiliated with Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta. Company officials recently announced they would not renew their EMS contract with Baldwin County. Grady EMS officials also announced they would not provide EMS coverage in several other counties in Georgia because they plan to focus on the Atlanta area.
Baldwin County Manager Carlos Tobar said he and staff members had met with Michelle Archer, regional EMS director.
“We reviewed all of the proposals, in fact, a couple of weeks ago,” Tobar said.
Six other ambulance services expressed an interest in providing service to Milledgeville and Baldwin County when bid proposals went out.: AmeriPro EMS, Atrium Health Navicent EMS, Patriot EMS, Central EMS, Aeric Med and AMR EMS.
Two of the companies submitted identical cost estimates. County officials recently asked for resubmitted bids and five of the same companies submitted proposed price sheets, according to Tobar.
“So, we rescored the proposals based on the prices,” he said. “The recommendation from staff is to award the contract to Atrium Health Navicent. They scored a total of 97 points out of 100.”
He said the scoring was based on price and qualifications.
Before commissioners voted to award the EMS contract, Commissioner Sammy Hall noted that by law the county can only enter into a yearly contract, but there was a renewal clause. Tobar said he received prices for the first three years, and then the fourth and fifth years.
“My suggestion is when you authorize the county attorney to enter into contract negotiations with your selected provider, if it’s Atrium Health Navicent, I recommend a five-year contract with the pricing that’s been stated in the proposal,” Tobar said.
For the first three years, Atrium Health Navicent has agreed to charge Baldwin County $195,000 annually. For the fourth year, the price from the EMS company would be $214,500; and the fifth year a total of $235,950.
The county manager said unless commissioners choose to cancel the contract for some reason that the EMS contract would automatically renew each year at those prices.
Before the vote, one Baldwin County resident urged the board to go a different direction.
“I come to you with about 20 years of experience in EMS,” Andrew Strickland said. “I am a board-certified flight paramedic and I have been working on a life-flight helicopter here in Milledgeville for the last six years.”
Strickland told commissioners they had a chance to level-up their emergency services in the county and reward local citizens with a “world-class” EMS system.
“We have a chance to reward those who have also served this county for decades, and how you reward them, you give this contract to somebody who offers competitive pay, the same Blue Cross, Blue Shield that my family enjoys, and advancement in one of the largest companies in the country,” Strickland said.
He recommended commissioners contract with American Medical Response because AMR EMS “ducktails beautifully with the life flight service that already exists here, and reward the people who have given so much to us, competitive pay and unbelievable benefits.”
The vote to approve Atrium Health EMS was unanimous. The contract is expected to be finalized by Oct. 3, the date of the next scheduled county commission meeting. The agreement will go into effect on Nov. 5.
“There’s nothing spectacular about the agreement; it’s going to be based on what you did with Grady EMS before,” Tobar said, noting the terms of the contract agreed to with Atrium Health Navicent would be included in the new agreement.
Tobar said Atrium Health Navicent EMS is the only EMS company out of the five that bid on the contract to make a commitment to hire current personnel. Grady EMS employees will need to apply for a position with the new provider.
In a press release issued Wednesday, Atrium Health Navicent President of Hospitals and Clinics Luis Fonseca, who also serves as as chief executive officer of Atrium Health Navicent Baldwin, responded to the new EMS contract with Baldwin County,
“Community hospital-based EMS provides the best opportunity for a seamless continuum of care for patients, resulting in improved patient outcomes and high patient satisfaction,” Fonseca said. “With pre-hospital care being delivered by Atrium Health Navicent EMS, we expect to see a patient-centered approach, improved response capabilities and patient outcomes.”
He also thanked the Baldwin County Board of Commissioners for the new partnership.