Medstar mess could be liability for county
Photo: Video by fox4now.com
LEE COUNTY - Upset about the past but focusing on the future. One Lee County Commissioner warning officials tonight that keeping Medstar grounded could be dangerous. It's been two months since the County Manager suspended the medical helicopter program ... But today steps were taken to restore this crucial service. Four in your Corner's Mike Mason has the details.
In August, County Manager Karen Hawes grounded Medstar because of billing problems, but now that she's leaving one commissioner says it's time to get the program off the ground.
Bob Hanes – Lee County EMS: "Please don't let these recent challenges derail this vital resource i implore you commissioners; reinstate Medstar."
Lee County EMS workers pleading with commissioners at Tuesday's meeting -- hoping they'll save Medstar instead of hiring a private company.
Scott Coma – Lee County EMS: "As you can see, private ambulances offer a lower fee to get their foot in the door but once that foots in the door they kick it wide open."
County officials are now reviewing offers from four private companies interested in taking over Medstar.
Commissioner Brian Bigelow is opposed to privatization and feels the county should stick with what they already have.
Brian Bigelow: "You don't kill something in order to make it better, you keep it alive as you study alternatives to improve it."
For now, the county has hired a helicopter to respond to medical emergencies... But in the past couple of months that company's chopper has had mechanical problems and couldn't respond. Bigelow says that creates a huge liability for the county.
Brian Bigelow: "We have to do something as quickly as yesterday because we don't want to wait for the other shoe to fall which could be lawsuits, the likes of which could be hundreds of millions of dollars."
On November 5th staff members will tell commissioners more about those 4 private companies that are hoping to take over Medstar.....at that point they may decide who they plan to hire.