Our Opinion: Hospital, TEMS need to sit down and talk

Published 8:12 pm Friday, January 30, 2009

When the board of directors for Bryan W. Whitfield Memorial Hospital meets, one of the topics of discussion is expected to be the future of the Tombigbee Emergency Medical Service, also known as the ambulance service.

Do not think the board is taking this decision lightly. Whatever it decides is likely to have an effect on anyone who needs an ambulance service inside Marengo County.

The hospital has fallen victim to the same ogre that has struck our area all too often: the economy.

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The board will consider the economics of running the existing ambulance service and consider alternatives, which will likely include considering another ambulance service. While another ambulance service may submit a low bid, over time, it is likely to increase its rates and cost as much if not more than the existing service would cost in the same amount of time.

Hospital CEO Mike Marshall has gone to Demopolis and Linden city officials and Marengo County officials to request subsidies from the areas that enjoy the services of the TEMS. All three entities turned it down, although Marshall had said that if one turns him down, the others would not be able to support it.

We hope that members of TEMS and the hospital board can sit down at the table and negotiate some kind of feasible agreement. Working with the ambulance service we know and trust is the best thing the board could decide. We also ask TEMS to find a middle ground in these negotiations to help the hospital better afford its services.