STONE COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Right now, some people in Stone County are wondering what's next for the area hospital. Hospital administrators held a private meeting Tuesday morning just days after the facility's ambulance service was reduced.
Hospital administrators told county officials Friday that the ambulances would go from four crews to two during the day and one at night. This decision had Wiggins Fire Chief Jody Hatten thinking through what this could mean. Hatten said the fire department responds to all emergency calls within the city, life threatening or not.
"We don't want to be tied up on a situation that's not life threatening and miss being able to respond to something that is life threatening," said Hatten.
That's what Hatten said could happen if his crews have to stay with a caller until an ambulance arrives later than it normally would because of limited personnel. It's the reality he and his department had to face over the holiday weekend.
"It kind of put us in a bind over the weekend. We had to call in another service to help us out on I know of at least six different calls," said Hatten.
According to Hatten, he was notified of the decision the day before it was announced. Hospital administrators held a private meeting just days after the announcement, but wouldn't comment on what was discussed.
The facility is privately owned, and according to Stone County board president, Scott Strickland, there is no contract between the county and the hospital.
"It's just an agreement we have for them to transport our patients as needed," said Strickland.
According to Strickland, he doesn't know what's next for the only hospital in the county, but he said administrators have given him their word.
"At this time they've assured me that they'll do whatever is in their power to provide adequate ambulance services for the citizens of Stone County," said Strickland.
And if they don't, Strickland said he and the board are committed to looking elsewhere for another provider.
WLOX reached out to Corporate Management Incorporated, the company over Stone County Hospital, but no one has returned our calls. WLOX also contacted the hospital owner, Ted Cain, and he declined to comment.