Sealey balks at MED1 extension

Bob Shiles Staff writer

October 22, 2013

LUMBERTON — Robeson County Commissioner Hubert Sealey wants the county to look more closely at providing its own non-emergency convalescent ambulance services before extending the contract of MED1, the county’s current provider.

Sealey on Monday was the only commissioner to vote against extending MED1’s two-year contract when it runs out in June.

A vote on extending the contract would have to be taken again at the next commissioners meeting because a unanimous vote was needed to approve the contract on the first reading. On the second reading only a majority of the eight commissioners would have to vote in favor of the contract for it to be extended for two years.

“True, there are funding issues,” Sealey said. “But I think we need to look at the county taking over these services rather than having it done by a private company.”

Greg Bounds, director of the county’s Emergency Medical Services, told the commissioners that with the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, he does not feel the time is right to expand services provided by the county.

“I don’t feel comfortable with it,” Bounds said. “I don’t want to take a chance that we could fail.”

Bounds said that MED1 has done a good job since July 2012, when it took over the county’s non-emergency convalescent ambulance services from American Medical Response, a national company that held a contract with the county for 13 years.

MED1 has efficiently answered 10 to 15 emergency 911 calls and 950 non-emergency convalescent ambulance calls each month, according to Bounds.

“Since they have been here they have assisted with the evacuation of a nursing home and I have monitored their ambulances. Everything has been satisfactory,” Bounds said. “I’ve had no trouble. They have met (requirements) of their contract.”

In other business, the commissioners on Monday:

— Named retired Superior Court Judge Gary Locklear as the county’s interim attorney.

Earlier this month the commissioners accepted the resignation of Doug Murray, who had been serving as interim attorney since the resignation of longtime County Attorney Hal Kinlaw in June. Murray resigned to become a magistrate in Brunswick County.

Although Kinlaw officially resigned the position he held with the county since 1990, County Manager Ricky Harris recently confirmed that Kinlaw is still working for the county on a retainer of $5,000 a month. Kinlaw is finishing up county cases that he had started before his resignation, Harris said.

“I am grateful you placed your trust in me.” Locklear told the board. ” … But I want to make it clear that I don’t want this as a full-time job and would not take it if offered.”

— Authorized County Manager Ricky Harris to write a letter to the state Department of Transportation requesting that a speed limit study be conducted for Great Marsh Road in St. Pauls.

Phillip Marks, pastor of Pleasant Grove Missionary Baptist Church, told the commissioners that there have been several accidents near his church on Great Marsh Road.

“We want the DOT to do a thorough study of speed on Great Marsh Road and install speed limit signs,” he said.

Commissioner Lance Herndon, whose district includes St. Pauls, said that the DOT and has assured him that a speed limit study will be conducted.

— Approved 52 community development fund transactions totaling about $18,000. Disbursements ranged from $25 to $2,500.