A retired hospital chief executive was selected Wednesday night as chairman of a committee to study ambulance service in Sumter County.
David Bussone, an entrepreneur and chief executive of several hospitals over more than 30 years, volunteered to chair the committee with the agreement of three other members. Leland Greek, former Sumter County fire chief, did not attend the meeting due to a prior family commitment.
Committee members also mapped out agendas for their next two meetings and heard a detailed explanation of their responsibilities under Florida’s sunshine and open records laws by County Attorney Jennifer Rey.
The Ad Hoc Fire, EMS and Medical Transport Committee, appointed Tuesday night by Sumter County commissioners, will meet biweekly into September and report its recommendations to commissioners in October. Members will study at least 10 options for the county ambulance service including continuing with a private provider, partnering with the University of Florida or consolidating emergency medical services with the fire departments.
Bussone thanked his fellow committee members for naming him chairman.
“I know that we can accomplish what we are being asked to do,” he said.
Committee members decided to invite chiefs of the county’s two fire departments to make presentations and answer questions at their next meeting on June 23 and a representative of American Medical Response (AMR) on July 7.
AMR, a nationwide private company, currently provides ambulance services and has come under fire recently for long response times of up to an hour or more on some calls. The AMR contract expires next year.
Terrence Ramotar, governmental affairs director of Global Medical Response, AMR’s parent company, spoke briefly during the public forum part of the meeting. Christine Kennedy, local operations director, has not publicly discussed the issue of slow response times with commissioners and has not responded to questions from Villages-News.com.
Ramotar said the COVID-19 pandemic has affected all health care providers and he praised the “tremendous dedication” of the company’s emergency medical technicians and paramedics.
“We are still in the pandemic,” he said. “We’re excited to show you the data and show you the challenges.”
Committee member Jeffrey Bogue, a former paramedic and current director of EMS/Critical Care Transport at Advent Health/Wesley Chapel, said he has a lot of questions about the current system.
“I want to hear from each of the fire departments,” he said. “They can certainly tell us how EMS is affecting their operation. I would like to learn what has been going on this year.”
Bogue of Bushnell said he is “an outside guy” who hasn’t been around The Villages and he wants to drill down on the issues.
“I am being asked to cast a vote that’s not only going to impact the county that I live in but it’s going to impact careers.”
Commissioner Gary Search thanked committee members for their service in studying the ambulance issue.
“We need to provide the best model in the county so people are safe and protected,” he said.