Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

EMSA Board Mulls Tulsa's Recommended Changes

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

EMSA Board Mulls Tulsa's Recommended Changes

Article excerpt

A sense of agreement underlined Wednesday's Emergency Medical Services Authority board discussion of the city of Tulsa Management Review Office's recommended procedural changes.

But potential long-term divisions also cropped up, with Tulsa District 8 Councilman Phil Lakin Jr. saying several issues may require more extensive analysis by the board or a committee.

"Some of these things aren't just going to happen overnight," said Tulsa Interim Economic Development Director Clay Bird.

He stressed that the board and EMSA should not overcommit to possible solutions without thinking them through.

That echoed many of Lakin's initial inquiries. He sought explanation on how the ambulance service provider for Tulsa and Oklahoma City could say it had already acted on or complied with many MRO recommendations issued just a month ago, following a season of public and media questions over EMSA billing practices and other operating issues.

Emergency Medical Services Authority President and CEO Steve Williamson responded point by point, promising further information on specific issues at the board's request.

Lakin's questions subsided somewhat when he realized he was not looking at EMSA's most recent update. Their talk also identified many areas of alignment with that MRO report.

"We have things we haven't solved yet," said Williamson, who stressed the need for time to make changes. "We have things we need to improve."

Although they differed on some perceived solutions, MRO consultant Michael Brink said the process has advanced well.

"We are pleased with how well they have worked with us," he said.

But divisions remained. One key stumbling block came over discussions of EMSA's long-running collections contract with the firm Works and Lenz, which media reports indicate employs a daughter of Williamson. Procedures linked to that contract lay at the heart of a Tulsa County District Court lawsuit that started this public debate over EMSA practices.

But since the state auditor's office is now looking into that situation, Williamson asked the board to hold off further discussion of why the authority had not competitively bid that contract.

While praising EMSA on its nimbleness, Brink reinforced MRO recommendations that EMSA use more public requests for proposals in letting contracts. …

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