The details still have to be worked out, but emergency medical services (EMS) in Bay County could be headed in a new direction. County commissioners will pursue a public-private partnership.
The county has been considering its options for months. At Tuesday's board meeting, Emergency Operations Chief Mark Bowen outlined three options: a public system, private system, and combination of the two. Commissioners directed Bowen to explore the public-private model which would bring emergency ambulance service in house and outsource non-emergency service.
Bay Medical Center currently holds the Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (COPCN) to operate the EMS services. Lifeguard Ambulance Service has a separate COPCN to provide non-emergency transfers.
Bay Med's certificate expires at the end of this year and Rick Smith, the hospital's vice president of ancillary services, made it clear that Bay Med wants to continue providing emergency transport. "I think there is some advantage to the public-private model, [but] I also think that Bay Medical has a huge interest in retaining the EMS service as is," he said.
"Bay Med is running a good thing over there," said Commissioner Mike Thomas. "They've got a great staff and it's something that would be easily rolled into the county and make it a smooth transition... but if they're not willing to give it up they can go out on a bid service with everybody else."
Bringing EMS service in-house means the county would have to spend millions to acquire ambulances and other equipment. Chief Bowen said public-private systems are the most popular business models in use in the state.