McKINNEY. KY — Stanford EMS has proposed taking over operation of McKinney Area Rescue Squad’s ambulances, while also requesting a hearing where it could argue against the need for the McKinney ambulance service to regain its license.
The move, which a McKinney board member characterizes as a “hostile takeover,” adds another twist to the story for the embattled McKinney organization, which ceased 911-response operations and lost its ambulance license in May. Auditor findings showed the ambulance service lost more than $200,000 over three years and called into question the actions of the squad’s ex-director.
Under the written proposal faxed to McKinney Rescue Squad last week, Stanford EMS would provide ambulance service for the McKinney area; take ownership of McKinney’s ambulances and medical supplies; receive all billing revenues that would have come to McKinney; and enter into a yearly lease to use the McKinney Rescue Squad building.
Stanford EMS would also take on McKinney’s debts, which board members have estimated at about $20,000, and possibly allow the appointment of a McKinney board member to the Stanford EMS board.
McKinney board members would be barred from operating a separate ground ambulance service for 10 years, according to the preliminary proposal.
“This is NOT an official offer,” the faxed proposal sent from Stanford EMS attorney Jonathan Baker reads. “I am providing this as a written proposal as was requested.”
Baker declined to provide a copy of the proposal to The Interior Journal, issuing a statement that reads, “At this time, Stanford EMS does not feel it is appropriate to release the proposed terms of the negotiations or proposals. Stanford EMS hopes to reach an agreement with McKinney Area Rescue Squad that will provide the best possible emergency medical care for the citizens of McKinney and Lincoln County.”
But The Interior Journal was faxed a copy of the proposal from McKinney Rescue Squad.
The proposal includes stipulations concerning McKinney Rescue Squad’s application for a certificate of need.
McKinney Rescue Squad board members have been applying for the certificate of need as a prerequisite for regaining their license to operate as an ambulance service.
On Oct. 3, Baker submitted a request to the state for a formal hearing where Stanford EMS could argue against awarding McKinney its certificate of need.
Baker said Stanford doesn’t necessarily intend to go forward with the hearing but had to request it before the Oct. 4 deadline to keep it available as an option.
“If they did not file (the request), then they lost that opportunity to have a hearing,” Baker said. “They wanted to reserve that capability to have a hearing if they want to.”
Baker confirmed that if the hearing were to happen, Stanford EMS would be arguing there is no need for McKinney Rescue Squad to regain its license.
The proposal from Stanford includes stipulations that McKinney Rescue Squad would withdraw its request for a certificate of need and Stanford EMS would withdraw its request for a hearing to argue against the certificate of need.
“It’s a hostile takeover,” McKinney board member Greg Snow said. “They’re blackmailing us. If we don’t accept their proposal then they’re going to try to take us to a hearing and block our (certificate of need).”
Snow said he and other board members felt “blind-sided” when Stanford EMS representatives first brought up the idea of taking over McKinney’s ambulance operations last month.
McKinney board members had thought Stanford EMS was supportive of their effort to regain their state license, but now it appears Stanford wants them to fail, Snow said.
“That’s pretty low,” he said. “It’s bringing up bad blood and putting a bad taste in everybody’s mouth.”
Snow said if he meets Stanford EMS board chairman TJ Hill or another board member, he plans to let him know just how he feels about the proposal.
“I’m going to rip it up right in front of him,” he said. “He ought to be embarrassed to send us something like this.”
Hill said the move to ask for a hearing was just what Stanford EMS had to do to protect itself while it works things out with McKinney.
“We’re a professional business. They’re a professional business — maybe not so professional that they run their business,” he said. “The bottom line is we’ve got to take our interest first and foremost on everything.”
Hill said if negotiations work out with McKinney Rescue Squad, there won’t be any need for the hearing.
“Depending on how things go, if we work out things with them, if it goes well, we can withdraw (the request for a hearing) if we need to,” he said.
But the McKinney board will likely not make any counter-offers or negoatiate with Stanford, Snow said.
“I guess we’ll fight them in Frankfort,” he said, referencing the certificate-of-need hearing. “We’ve fought this long. We’re not giving up now.”