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JPs approve solution for ambulance service issue

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After wrestling with the ambulance issue for more than 45 minutes, the Howard County Quorum Court may have reached a liveable solution for at least the next four years.

JPs voted unanimously for the motion by JP Jeanie Gorham — attending her last meeting on the court — to renew the existing contract with Howard County Ambulance Service for four years. The contract is only for the two-thirds of the county roughly below Center Point, and exclusivity of patient transfers is only for emergency runs.

That satisfied JP Cotton Cothren of Dierks who wanted other ambulance services, including one which might locate at Dierks, at least a chance to gain income for the action for non-emergency patient transfers.

Howard Memorial Hospital administrator Debra Wright said she was concerned that patients from Pike County might have been told that their ambulance costs would greater unless they were taken to a Hot Springs hospital which would enable their local service to bring them home when their treatment was completed. She didn’t want to ‘lose’ any of those potential patients.

In non-emergency patient transfers now, hospital physicans and the patients themselves will determine which ambulance service is used.

HCAS has a five-year exclusive contract with the city of Nashville for both emergency and non-emergency runs.

At the end of the meeting, Gorham’s letter of resignation was read by County Judge Kevin Smith. Gorham is moving to McCaskill, out of her JP district in Howard County.

Other items before the court in its regular session for September:

The court approved a library expenditure of $1,000 to provide for one more day a week for the Mineral Springs library branch to be open.

Judge Smith gave the court an update on heavy equipment which is now in place to take down tree stumps and downed timber from the May tornado.