by James Fisher
GRAFTON -- Officials from Jan-Care Ambulance Service Inc., say they are exploring the possibility of opening a satellite office in or near Grafton to help them better serve their Taylor County clients.
Existing ambulance and transport services in the county, however, say that if Jan-Care does locate in Taylor County, it could hurt their business.
"It's not Jan-Care specifically I'm worried about, it's any for-profit ambulance company," said Amy Summers, president of the Taylor County Emergency Squad. "My concern is that this county is small and it's not big enough to support three ambulance services."
Shane Wheeler, operations manager for Jan-Care's north central division, said the company performs a "considerable number of transports" in the Grafton area and has explored the possibility of locating an ambulance and crew there. Ambulance crews now have to come from Clarksburg, Fairmont or Morgantown to handle the transport calls, he said.
Wheeler also said Jan-Care has no interest in becoming a primary responder for the county's emergency 911 calls.
"We just want to take care of the customers we already have," Wheeler said. "We could be available as a back-up to the county, but as far as being a primary provider or splitting up the city or alternating calls, that's not what we're talking about."
Louise Hickman of D&L Limousine, Inc., a Grafton company that handles many non-ambulatory Medicaid transports, is concerned that Jan-Care will take some of that business, putting financial strain on her company.
"If they do come in, we're done," she said. "It will hurt a lot of people."
While Jan-Care officials had approached city officials about possibly locating an ambulance inside the city's fire department, City Manager Kevin Stead said nothing has been decided. Stead said Jan-Care officials had been to the city to look at the garage, but have not yet been back in contact with city officials.
Regional writer James Fisher can be reached at 626-1446 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.