Julia Roberts Goad
PIKEVILLE, Ky. - Although areas of Pike County were affected by the shutdown of Questcare EMS, the entire county still has ambulance service.
Questcare officially announced the end of its run as an emergency transportation service Monday, following a year of hardships for the company.
According to an announcement released Monday by Questcare President Kevin Fairle, the business ceased all operations on New Year’s Eve.
“The shutdown hasn’t been too bad for Pike County,” Emergency Services Director Doug Tackett told the Daily News. “We hope to have another ambulance station set up in Phelps within a week.”
Tackett said Trans-Star Ambulance and Appalachian First Response have stepped in to respond to any calls to the Phelps area.
“Trans-Star is increasing its staff, that company will have a station in Phelps as soon as possible,” Tackett said.
“Questcare EMS is announcing that as of today, Dec. 31, 2012, it has ceased all business operations,” said Fairle in a written statement. “Questcare will no longer provide ambulance services in Floyd, Pike, Johnson, Martin or Magoffin counties.”
Questcare was the sole provider of service to the Phelps area, but other companies have stepped in to help cover until a permanent ambulance station is set up in that end of the county.
Questcare President Kevin Fairle said Questcare has donated all its business assets to Consolidated Health Systems, the parent company of Highlands Regional Medical Center, which will oversee the liquidation of assets. He added that the medical center will not operate the ambulance service.
This Monday, the Kentucky State Board of Emergency Medical Service issued a cease and desist order and suspended the license.
On Wednesday, CHS released a statement with regard to the donation, saying, “Officials at Highlands agreed to accept the donation of the company’s assets, along with some medical equipment and four ambulance service licenses.”
Highlands representatives said there are “approximately” 17 vehicles, in various conditions, and basic medical equipment included in the donation. “We really do not have an accurate value of the items that will be donated,” said Maxanna Cook, hospital spokesperson, “we are just happy to receive it as a gift, and will use the proceeds to further our mission in the community.”
Cook said, as a non-profit orginization, Highlands accepts donations of many kinds as a way to support the ongoing health care needs of the region. “In addition to cash, securities and real estate, other forms of property are always welcomed as gifts. We appreciate any kind of support.”
Questcare Ambulance became embroiled in controversy last spring when its license to operate was suspended, following months of investigations into complaints of faulty equipment.
A Kentucky Board of Emergency Medical Services Temporary Suspension Panel determined in June of this year that, due to major deficiencies found system-wide, an Order of Immediate Temporary Suspension would be necessary to protect the public interest.
Violations found with the company’s ambulances included a lack of air conditioning in more than a dozen ambulances, and all but six of its 21 ambulances listed on Questcare’s license were parked due to maintenance issues.
Questcare had been the employer of nearly one hundred people in the region.
Editors Note: Civitas News Service staff writer Jack Lanna contributed to this article.