BENTON COUNTY, ARKANSAS, Ark. — About 50,000 people in Benton County will soon have a new ambulance provider. The cities impacted include Cave springs, Centerton, Decatur, Gentry, and Highfill.
The Mayor of Cave Springs says he’s planning the next steps after speaking with the Benton County judge.
“I do appreciate the fact that he brought all the cities together that are involved. We are working with him and with each other to put together a process,” said Randall Noblett.
Judge Barry Moehring tells 5NEWS that this move comes as a surprise. He says northwest health cited financial issues with the contract for this decision.
“We've been in meetings all week to come up with a new proposal that will be in the newspaper for bid and we'll be interviewing prospects in the next month or so,” said Moehring
Northwest Health Spokesperson Christina Bull released a statement, saying in part:
"Northwest Health has notified Benton County that it will terminate the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) agreement, effective Jan. 30, 2023. Northwest Health EMS will continue to provide emergency response and transport services until then to ensure adequate time for the County to identify a new EMS provider.
Northwest Health made this decision in order to refocus resources on its hospital services and other points of care across the community.
Northwest Health has appreciated the opportunity to provide EMS services to western Benton County including Gentry, Decatur, Cave Springs, Highfill and Centerton for the past three years and looks forward to continuing to be a health resource for local residents through our large network of healthcare services and locations."
The Mayor of Centerton says the decision also threw him off guard because of their strong working relationship.
“Because here currently in Centerton we have two of their ambulances here which serves quite of a bit of the area to the west of Centeron and also the city limits proper,” Bill Edwards said.
In the meantime, he and the other cities are working to find a new provider and he doesn’t want residents to be concerned.
“Us and the other cities…. they’ve all been working together, and everyone has been very proactive,” said Edwards.
County officials say they are confident a new provider will be chosen quickly enough so there is no lapse in service.