NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The Tennessee Department of Health has ordered a medical transportation company to immediately stop transporting patients who require stretchers.
Z & S Medical Transportation, Inc., is a medical transportation company that is allowed to transport patients who require wheelchairs, but the company is not licensed to transport patients on stretchers.
The state requires a specific license for those types of transports and the state said the company has been operating without that license.
In a cease and desist letter sent to the owner of the company on January 9, 2017, the Assistant General Counsel LaChina McKinney wrote that Z & S must stop providing emergency medical services.
News 2 talked to the company’s owner, Shikheldin Mohamed.
He said the situation is a misunderstanding and that he did not know he need the additional license when he started operating as a subcontractor for Southeastrans, on December 5, 2016.
Southeastans is a minority-owned, non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT) management company based in Atlanta, Georgia. It specializes in Medicaid and managed care NEMT programs. They provide NEMT administrative and related services to state Medicaid and HMO clients, including verification of eligibility utilizing proven gatekeeping processes, claims management, provider credentialing, utilization review, and quality management, according to the company’s website.
They operate in Tennessee, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, Virginia and Washington D.C.
Z & S Medical Transportation has been properly authorized to transport non-emergency ambulatory and wheelchair patients within our Tennessee network for over two years. Z & S recently transported a limited number of non-emergency stretcher patients, which requires a State license that was not verified due to an oversight during the vehicle inspection process. Southeastrans strives to ensure that all providers of non-emergency transportation maintain all required State documentation at all times, and we’ve taken appropriate action (including the issuance of a Cease and Desist Letter) to ensure that Z & S obtains these documents before transporting non-emergency stretcher patients in the future,” said Southeastrans in a statement.
“They came out and inspected my vehicle and said we were good,” Mohamed said. “I did not know we needed the license until we went to do a transport at Vanderbilt on January 3, 2017.”
Mohamed said that would have been the first stretcher transport for his company and after he found out he needed the additional license he applied.
The state department of health confirms he applied for an emergency medical services license.
However, in the cease and desist letter, McKinney wrote that Mohamed was aware he needed an emergency medical services license about two weeks before he had his final inspection from Southeastrans on December 5, 2016.
She wrote, “On November 22, 2016, the Assistant Director of the Office of Emergency Medical Services met and discussed with you the requirement of a license before transporting patients; however, it has been brought to the department’s attention that you may be operating Z & S Medical Transportation Inc. without at licenses.”
Mohamed showed News 2 the email from SouthEastTrans showing the final inspection they made of his vehicle.
News 2 contacted the corporate marketing manager and the senior operations director for the state of Tennessee for comment. We did not receive a response by air time.
The Tennessee Department of Health told News 2 that in addition to the cease and desist letter, the department is investigating Z & S Transport’s operations.
According to Tennessee state law, the Emergency Services Board can levy civil penalties of up to $50 per day per violation and has the option to have the Davidson County District Attorney’s office review the matter for possible criminal charges.
Donna Tidwell is the director of the Division of Emergency Medical Services.
Tidwell said she cannot comment on the specifics of the Z and S Medical Transportation investigation because it is ongoing and because the department is careful to keep the source of all complaints confidential.
But she said it is very rare to have a complaint about an unlicensed invalid transportation company operating.
Her office oversees both ambulance transportation and non-emergency medical transportation or invalid service.
“The invalid service is a type of service we license for those individuals that are transported on a stretcher but don’t need and don’t have a potential need for medical care needed during the transport,” she said. “Those are not marked up like ambulances. In fact most of them will say this is not an ambulance on the side of it or they do not provide medical care.”
She continued, “Our role and our responsibility in the office of emergency services is to protect the safety and well-being of everyone in this state and anyone who visits this state.”
If you have a complaint against a healthcare professional you can download the complaint form here.