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Wash. county commissioners keep AMR despite protest

Advanced Life Systems had protested Yakima County’s choicec citing AMR’s problems in other communities


Photo/AMR Multnomah and Clackamas Counties

By Phil Ferolito
Yakima Herald-Republic

YAKIMA COUNTY, Wash. — Despite the protests of a local ambulance company, Yakima County commissioners are keeping nationwide American Medical Response as the county’s exclusive 911 ambulance responder.

Commissioners in December chose AMR over the local Advanced Life Systems for the contract.

During Tuesday’s regular business meeting, commissioners unanimously reaffirmed their choice and rejected ALS’s protest.

The decision comes after a hearing last week in which ALS was allowed to voice its concerns over the selection.

Previously, both ambulance providers responded to 911 calls and transfers from one medical or care facility to another.

But fire chiefs across the Yakima Valley complained that ambulances were too often busy on interfacility calls and called for a single 911 responder.

ALS protested the county’s selection, pointing out problems AMR has had in other communities, such as a canceled contract in Tacoma and a discrimination lawsuit it settled for $165,000 in Spokane.

[EARLIER: Controversy returns in selection of Wash. county’s ambulance service]

Earlier this year, AMR cited financial problems for ending services in Grant County. AMR said low reimbursements from insurers like Medicaid were causing budgetary issues and decided to end services when Grant County refused to pay $350,000 in annual subsidies.

ALS initially protested to Yakima County Prosecutor Joe Brusic, who denied their request. That landed the matter before commissioners, who unanimously denied ALS’s protest.

Commissioner Kyle Curtis said he understood the concerns raised by ALS, but said he believed commissioners still made the right decision in selecting AMR.

“While I think there is a lot of sentiments and points made in the protest, I cannot say as a commissioner that this board has done anything that would warrant this protest,” Curtis said.

This isn’t the first time controversy erupted over the selection. Early last year, commissioners selected AMR but nixed that contract after issues were raised about the request for proposal and scoring process.

Commissioners enlisted the help of the city of Yakima’s purchasing department to oversee the process to avoid any perceived conflicts of interest. The city contracted with McGrath Consulting based in Jamestown, Tenn., to devise a second RFP.

Commissioner LaDon Linde said he’d read through two large binders of information on the matter before making his decision in December.

“We’re just trying to make the best decision that will have the best impact on our citizens of Yakima County,” Linde said.

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