Emergystat’s financial troubles cease their operation

Published 7:22 pm Friday, January 25, 2008

Emergystat’s loss of liability insurance, apparently due to financial problems beyond their control, cost them their service contract with Pearl River County and its cities.

Southland Chief Financial Officer Allen Walls said two companies owe Southland, which operates under the trade name Emergystat, about $500,000. A press release from Emergystat states about $300,000 is owed by Sulligent, a subsidiary to Emergystat. Those funds are being blocked by GE Capital for legal reasons, Walls said. Walls said the Sulligent subsidiary of Emergystat is in bankruptcy, and that those funds are owed for dispatchers and shared operations.

Additionally $200,000 is owed to Emergystat by Medicare, where apparently system problems are to blame, Walls said. Medicare representatives did not return phone calls made by the Picayune Item Thursday and Friday morning. Medicare payments to Emergystat of Southland have ceased since Jan. 4, due to those unspecified system problems, Walls said.

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Loss of those payments forced Emergystat of Southland to lose its professional and liability insurance, causing the Mississippi Health Department to temporarily shut down their operations in Mississippi. The cessation of service affected Emergystat ambulance service operations in 23 counties in Mississippi and counties in Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, Virginia and Florida, according to the release.

Walls could not give a time table when he expects those financial situations to be cleared up.

“It’s of up most concern and we’re moving as quickly as we can,” Walls said.

Walls said in the mean time Emergystat has allowed American Medical Response to utilize their personnel and equipment.

AMR Public Information Officer Rick Fayard said the company is not using any of Emergystat’s equipment, however they did offer jobs to Emergystat personnel. Some Emergystat personnel are now riding with AMR personnel to help familiarize them with the community and its roads, Fayard said.

If Emergystat secures its insurance soon, Walls said the company will resume operations, that is if they are not replaced in the mean time.

“Obviously in this situation some (county officials) might decide to put (the contract) out for bid, we can’t control that,” Walls said.

That is what happened in Pearl River County. The county board of supervisors and the Picayune City Council both canceled contracts with Emergystat Thursday night.

Emergystat employee Capricia Burge said she and other employees have not been paid for their last pay period, which makes her worry about the coming pay period. Her last pay check bounced and phone calls to Emergystat about the situation go unanswered or are not returned.

Burge said she found out about Emergystat’s troubles by a tone over their radio stating Emergystat would cease operations at midnight Wednesday night.

“They didn’t even have the decency to tell us,” Burge said.

While Burge is glad AMR has offered jobs to her and other Emergystat employees, she knows they will not pay for the previous time worked under Emergystat.

In the interim AMR has five units working Pearl River County. Those five units have not stressed AMR’s coverage in other areas. Fayard said AMR is a large organization and has 35 units at the Gulfport location, which covers Hancock and Harrison counties.

Fayard and another representative of AMR met with Picayune’s city council during a recessed meeting Thursday night .

“We hope to be the ambulance service of Pearl River County,” Fayard said.

City Manager Ed Pinero said after the executive session concerning ambulance service and a separate personnel matter that the council decided to cancel the contract with Emergystat and meet with City of Poplarville and county officials on Monday to work on a new ambulance service contract. In the meantime, AMR will continue to provide ambulance service.

“They’re really going out of their way to make sure that we’re covered,” Pinero said.

A decision on the separate personnel matter involved the council advertising for a new city manager to replace Pinero when he takes his new position with the county.

A meeting scheduled at 5 p.m. Monday in the Pearl River County board of supervisors board room to discuss a new contract, Pinero said.