White Oak EMS ends county contract

Published 6:56 pm Monday, May 16, 2016

White Oak EMS is ending its contract with the county as of the end of the month.

The announcement was made at an emergency called meeting of the Beaufort County Board of Commissioners on Monday night.

Beaufort County EMS will take over paramedic-level service in the Belhaven/Pantego area starting June 1.

White Oak EMS, based out of Windsor, has been covering the EMS service district for the past six years, weathering both the transition to paramedic-level service and the closure of Belhaven’s hospital during that time.

Ricky White, owner of White Oak EMS, told commissioners it was a hard decision to make, but he’d seen “which direction the county wanted to go.”

County commissioners are in the middle of budget workshops and will pass a budget by June for the new fiscal year beginning July 1. The 2016-17 Manager’s Recommended Budget calls for a reduction in White Oak EMS service, from one paramedic ambulance and one EMT-Intermediate ambulance, to the single paramedic ambulance, which accounts for a decrease of $600,000 to $350,000. Officials based the decision on numbers: though the county was paying $250,000 for the additional ambulance and personnel, of the 850 calls for White Oak EMS, the second ambulance made only 114 of those transports — a number BCEMS could easily absorb into its Bath base of operations.

Now, the county will be providing all coverage for the area in less than a month. It will also be collecting the associated Medicaid and Medicare billing, which White estimated to be between $25-30,000 per month.

“I don’t have nothing against the county. I don’t have nothing against the Town of Belhaven,” he told the board.

White offered to sell the county White Oak’s two ambulances, the equipment on them, radios and supplies for $100,000 — an offer the county accepted with a 7–0 vote. Commissioners considered it a deal, as four years ago White paid $140,000 for one ambulance and recently put a $20,000 monitor on it.

He encouraged the county to hire the White Oak EMTs and paramedics who’ve worked with him over the years, not only because he feels an obligation to them, but because they are very familiar with the area. Regardless, White said he would offer them employment in Windsor should the county not absorb the White Oak EMS personnel.

Several commissioners thanked White for the service he’s provided to northeastern Beaufort County. White Oak will continue to make non-emergency medical transports in Beaufort County.