Medshore EMS accountability under scrutiny by County

By Stan Welch
The issue of accountability for one of the county’s major providers of emergency medical services was the topic of a meeting of the county public safety committee Monday.
Medshore, the county’s only corporate EMS provider, is essentially responsible for the city of Anderson. The assigned territory is not that precise; but basically, Medshore handles Anderson. Since the Williamston Rescue Squad folded, a couple of years ago, Medshore has also covered the Williamston area.
Medshore operates under a performance based contract. One feature of that contract requires a response level of less than ten minutes for at least ninety per cent of the calls handled. Those response times are reviewed monthly by Steve Kelly, EMS director, and a representative of Medshore.
Many of the violations are forgiven, based on such factors as Medshore units being dispatched to other scenes at the time. For example, for the period referred to in this article, there were originally twenty violations of the performance requirements. After review, that number dropped to four. But the fines for those four violations totaled six thousand dollars, according to the terms of the contract, which was signed in August of 2018.
The process allows for an appeal of any fine, which brought the public safety commission Medshore and Priority representatives and Director Kelly together Monday. Priority is a nationwide ambulance service company that recently purchased controlling interest in Medshore.
Director Kelly  informed the committee that, for the four violations, Medshore dispatched no resources, sent no units at all. Those calls were handled by other EMS providers. Greg Shore, founder and operator of Medshore, as well as county coroner, reiterated that no one went unserved. “Ambulances responded to every call,” he stressed. It is common practice for other providers to respond to calls in another provider’s coverage area.
Kelly pointed out that, under the contract, every failure to respond is a fineable offense. “We have been very forgiving  and have allowed a lot of leeway in these cases.” Asked by District Six Councilman and committee member Jimmy Davis just when he thought the fines would be imposed, Shore said he thought they would be imposed the first time a call went unanswered. That response led District Five Councilman Tommy Dunn, who was sitting in for Craig Wooten, who was out of town, to respond ” I know this. When a Belton unit is responding to Anderson, something is being done wrong.”
Shore raised the issue of staffing shortages, and added that he thought the county had agreed to be patient while those issues were addressed. “I’m taking this kind of personally, because I feel like we were blindsided. This six thousand dollars will be paid if that is the decision of the council. But it will impact our ability to provide certain services to non- profit organizations. We often conduct events at no cost to the various organizations, but these fines will impact our ability to do so.”
Shore also said that the stress incurred by the fines, and his reaction to it, had sent him to the emergency room over the weekend with dangerously high blood pressure. “I do take this personally. Medshore has served this county since 1987.”
Priority representative Dick Whipple spoke briefly, explaining that the Anderson county EMS system is not in compliance with national standards, a situation that results in inefficiency.
Following the public meeting, the committee went into executive session to discuss contractual matters. Upon returning to open session, the committee voted to recommend to the full council a reduction of the fines by two thirds, from six thousand dollars to two thousand dollars. The full council will consider the recommendation at the next council meeting.