A new county-wide ambulance service contract has been approved between officials of Grady Emergency Memorial Hospital Corporation doing business as South Georgia Emergency Medical Service and the Baldwin County Board of Commissioners.

The new contract was unanimously approved during Tuesday night’s commission meeting.

“We’ve been working with the county and the county attorney has helped us through Grady’s legal team to have the county assume this contract,” said Bill Compton, senior vice president of South Georgia Emergency Medical Service. “It’s been in limbo for lack of better words for about the last three years.”

Compton told commissioners that state officials and insurance providers had asked Grady officials, as providers of the ambulance service in Milledgeville and Baldwin County, to establish a new emergency medical services agreement with county officials.

“We would maintain the same level of services that we had and have,” Compton said.

The previous contract became null and void with Oconee Regional Medical Center (ORMC) after the hospital eventually was sold to Navicent Health Services in Macon. Today, the hospital is known as Navicent Health Baldwin.

Compton said the new agreement included basically the same provisions as the ambulance service had provided from the time they took over offering ambulance service operations in Milledgeville and Baldwin County.

“You won’t see any daily change in the operations,” said Compton, who was joined at the meeting by John Gonzalez, who manages the local ambulance service, as well as Foster Hurt, who also works at the ambulance service.

Compton said Gonzalez, who also serves as the coroner of Baldwin County, has served as the local EMS manager for the past three years.

“He’s been with us since the transition three years ago,” Compton said of Gonzalez. “We’re happy to have him.”

Compton said it was his hope that Grady ambulance service would continue to be the choice for ambulance service in Milledgeville and Baldwin County for many years to come.

Following Compton’s comments, Baldwin County Commission Chairman John H. Westmoreland asked whether the commissioners wished to make any comment.

Commission Vice Chairman Henry Craig told Compton that commissioners were “very pleased” with the services that had been offered to Baldwin County over the past three years.

Craig praised the response times of the ambulance service, describing them as excellent.

He pointed out that the ambulance service response times of today are much better than the previous ambulance service provider.

“We are extremely satisfied,” Craig said.

Westmoreland explained that county officials receive a monthly report about response times of the ambulance service.

“I just want to echo what Mr. Craig said,” Commissioner Sammy Hall said. “We have been keeping an eye on everything and the services that Grady provides is far and above what we got in the past. We didn’t always know if we even had an ambulance in the county.”

Today, Hall said, commissioners know that there are an adequate number of ambulances in the county at all times.

“They (Grady EMS) provided a lot of equipment to our 911 so that can tell exactly where an ambulance is,” Hall said. “We can know if an ambulance is two minutes away or five minutes away and where it is. The service has been tremendous.”

Hall added that not nearly as many patients were being sent to The Medical Center Navicent Health in Macon as had been the case in the past.

“Not only because of the hospital, but with the ambulance service, our population at the hospital has grown, and all of that is a plus for Baldwin County,” Hall said. “So, thank y’all for what y’all are doing.”

Commissioner Emily C. Davis, meanwhile, praised the management team of Gonzalez and Foster Hurt with the local ambulance service.

“They both do a great job,” Davis said.

Commissioners later voted unanimously approved a new contract with the current ambulance service provider.

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