02 July 2017

[TPC] - Ambulance Service & Hospital Authority in Newton Co - More Questions than Answers

On June 23rd, the Covington News reported that Newton Co. had come to an agreement with Grady Hospital to handle ambulance services for the county starting August 1st. This came about after Piedmont Newton had said they had no intention of continuing ambulance service in Newton Co. once it became clear that the earmarked millage that had previously always been set aside for the Hospital Authority and its EMS license was no longer going to be available.

It was made clear in the public record that this was the case. Very, very clear. As a result, Newton Co. had started the process of giving up the ambulance service license that it (well, it was never really Newton Co. - it was always the Newton Co. Hospital Authority) had previously held. But then after public backlash, a reversal was made on that decision.

But...strange thing - that all changed in the last few days. And according to the Covington News report that came out in today's Sunday edition - everything that had been in the public record for the last couple of weeks, apparently, was never the case, according to Piedmont and Dr. Jim Weadick.

That's interesting, though, because it was totally the case. Everyone knows it, and everyone who really knows what's going on pretty much knows that that was the case.

A few things:

The Newton Co. Hospital Authority is alive and well, and they are, by all accounts, very much kicking. They are the ones who actually have control over the EMS license, as we understand it. Many thought that once the Piedmont deal was done, the hospital authority was going to go away, but that is not the case, and per four different sources, the authority is actually who controls the license in this situation.

This is why, as we understand it, there is no legal recourse for reneging with Grady. The Newton BOC had no mandate there. It's only the authority who has legal control. The Newton BOC never had the legal capacity to even think about getting involved with this.

That's a hell of a note, eh?

So, who and what is the Newton Co. Hospital Authority?

Per the official DCA webpage: 

Creation Date:1/1/1952
Method of Creation:General Statute
Official Citation:O.C.G.A. 31-7-70
Single or Multi Jurisdictional:Single-Jurisdictional
Members:Newton County
James F. Weadick, CEO and Sec NCHA
5126 Hospital Drive, N.E.
Covington, Georgia   30014
Board Members:
D. L. Knox, Tim Park, M. D., Richard Brown, Bob Richardson, William D. Fortson, Dr. Melvin Baker, Vincent Eagan

As many sources have told this writer for many, many moons - there is no bigger thing in Newton Co. than the Hospital Authority. As I've been told by two different sources, ORR (Open Records Request)'s have been filed on the authority many times with always the same result - nothing. No response has ever been given, to this writer's knowledge, of any ORR ever filed with this authority.

So, what is the "why" here? Why would the authority, without continuing to receive the millage they'd always received, want to keep the license?

As three different sources have all said - chances are, it has something to do with money.

Also, many questions have been bantered about regarding Billy Fortson. Questions pertaining to a strip center on Hwy 278 where there is a MRI center related to the hospital. Questions about ambulances being used to transport patients to said center.

Also, other questions about the legalities of the current ambulance service legally being able to handle non-emergency transports. And even more questions about the air-ambulance services in Newton Co. Have federal and state laws been broken numerous times over the last several years?

So many questions.

This story is very much developing...