Concordia Police Jury grants occupational license to Med Express

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 2, 2000

VIDALIA, La. – After more than two months of debate and delays, the Concordia Parish Police Jury approved an occupational license for ambulance company Med Express during a Monday special meeting.

&uot;We think this is a positive move for the parish and for Med Express,&uot; said Shannon Pennington, public relations director for Med Express. But Pennington added he does not yet know when the company will begin operating in Concordia Parish, saying that decision is up to company Chief Executive Officer Mark Majors.

&uot;I expected this to happen,&uot; said Jim Graves, general manager of American Medical Response, Med Express’ competitor. &uot;Frankly, I’m surprised it took (the jury) this long.&uot;

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Med Express officials first announced at the jury’s July 24 meeting that the company wanted to do business in Concordia Parish.

But in its Aug. 14 and Sept. 25 meetings, the jury delayed a vote on Med Express’ license until it could receive an attorney general’s opinion on whether or not a license could be granted to a company suing a subdivision of parish government.

Med Express is suing Riverland Medical Center in Seventh Judicial District Court, charging the hospital owes the company $40,087 for transporting non-insured patients in cases Medicare and Medicaid would not cover.

&uot;The Attorney General’s Office basically said that as long as (Med Express) abides by the ordinances and fulfills their other requirements, there’s nothing to keep us from issuing a license,&uot; said jury President Charlie Blaney.

The Concordia Parish 911 Communications Board will still have to vote on adding Med Express to the parish’s 911 rotation.

But Med Express will not wait on that approval to begin offering other services, such as non-emergency patient transport, Pennington said following the meeting.

Previously, Med Express discontinued service in Concordia Parish Aug. 16, 1999.

AMR representatives, who have spoken out in the past against granting Med Express another license, have said that at that time, Med Express only gave other emergency agencies about two days’ notice that it was going to suspend service.

Since that time, Concordia Parish has had two ambulance services, AMR and the Vidalia Fire Department, the latter of which operates within Vidalia’s town limits.