There was a change of scenery this week at the meeting of the Osage County Board of County Commissioners, as the meeting took place in the second floor courtroom to accommodate the large attending audience. The majority of the meeting was dedicated to the discussion of Eagle Medical Transport LLC notice of withdraw from Osage County.
Laura Ward Vice-President and accountant for Eagle Medical Transport spoke to the commissioners regarding their current service issues and discussed the very real possibility that Eagle Medical may be leaving Osage County as early as May 1. Ward discussed that it is with a heavy heart that she submit the notice of withdraw, and announced that they do not want to leave Osage County or the Barnsdall Area but they have been unable to maintain operation since arriving three months ago.
Ward stated they have had difficulty maintaining staff and have cut back to a single operating ambulance, however even with a solely volunteer staff they cannot maintain unless action is taken. Discussed in the meeting were several different avenues of funding including an opt out measure in combination with Verdigris Valley Electric, where utility customers would have a service charge added to their monthly bill in order to help maintain the EMS service, unless they opt out.
District 2 Commissioner Scott Hilton discussed at length that this was not the first instance of an EMS service closing their doors in Osage County and continues to be an issue. Hilton mentioned an option of submitting a quarter cent sales tax to subsidize EMS services in Osage County but hopes they might find an alternate option first.
Eagle Medical is currently working to create a membership program in order to maintain service but fears it may not be enough. The Commissioners decided that they would address the issue again in a few weeks once Eagle Medical has had a chance to address other avenues of funding.
The Osage County Board of County Commissioners will meet again next Monday at 10am at the Osage County Courthouse in Pawhuska.