EMS policy in Houston County makes national news

(Photo: WKRN)

HOUSTON COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) – A story News 2 uncovered is making national news among emergency medical workers.

News 2 first reported about a new policy in Houston County that requires EMTs to call the local hospital before transferring a patient to a hospital outside of the county, even though the county doesn’t have a trauma center or surgeon on staff.

A California-based paramedic caught wind of the story and posted it on a national website along with an opinion piece.

Arthur Hsieh
Arthur Hsieh (Photo: WKRN)

In the article, Arthur Hsieh calls Houston County’s policy something from the “stone age.”

“In terms of calling the doctor and asking where we should go, that hasn’t been around in 25 years,” Hsieh said.

It’s not only archaic, but Hsieh says it could be dangerous.

“Could that potentially be harmful for the patient? Yes. Deadly? Possible,” he added.

Hsieh suggested the policy could be a ploy to raise money for the hospital.

News 2 did some digging and found the last available state audit shows the Houston County Community Hospital is nearly $500,000 in debt.

News 2 also obtained the minutes from the Board of Trustees meetings. In March, the Chief Financial Officer reported that $500,000 per month is needed to pay the bills and only an average of $350,000 is coming in.

Hsieh also said the County Commissioner who News 2 interviewed needed more education on how EMS service works.

News 2 called George Jeram for his reaction. He declined our request for an on-camera interview but did say he has not read Hsieh’s op-ed and has no intention of reading it.

The policy is slated to be discussed at the next Commissioners meetings on Nov. 16.

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