SHREVEPORT, La - It looks like Balentine Ambulance will be hauling the City of Shreveport to court. That's what the city's longtime non-emergency ambulance service has warned, after their appeal of the city's move to add two other ambulance services failed.
Balentine asked the city council to overturn Chief Administrative Officer Henry Whitehorn's decision to license two rival ambulance companies so that they can transfer some hospital patients.
Balentine attorney Lee Ayers took the council step by step through what he claims were legal missteps by Whitehorn under the city charter.
"All of that was in rank disregard in violation of the procedures of the ordinances," Ayers said.
At one point, he claimed, "The CAO must allow a company like Balentine a reasonable period of time to provide those additional services."
But Whitehorn said Balentine's owner admitted to him they had transport delays to Ochsner LSU Health and Christus hospitals.
"He also told me that there was a problem with hiring -- having enough folks," Whitehorn said, explaining that was part of his decision process to on the need to add ambulance service. He said Christus and Ochsner had also complained of the need.
"They talked about the wait times on moving patients. They talked about the bed space. They talked about the patients laying in the hallway," Whitehorn told the council.
City Attorney Ron Lattier also weighed in, saying, "From what I've seen, (Whitehorn's) followed everything he's supposed to have followed."
After more than an hour of discussion at Tuesday's meeting, the council voted 4 to 1 to deny Balentine's appeal.
Acadian Ambulance has been making runs from Ochsner LSU Health for about a month. Those ambulances have Ochsner LSU Health Shreveport logos.
Christus is expected to roll out its own service soon.
It will mean less business for Balentine. Ayers said the city never explained what it wanted from them.
"Whatever need the city thinks there is, we can meet it. But tell us what it is. And we can meet it," Ayers pleaded.
Grayson Boucher was the lone council vote in favor of Balentine. Jerry Bowman, who is employed in the health care field, abstained. Tabatha Taylor was out of the chamber.
Aphreikah Duhaney-West, Chief Executive Officer of Ochsner LSU Health Shreveport, said in a statement, “With the rising number of trauma-related injuries, we understand firsthand the strain this puts on emergency services. After reviewing multiple companies, Ochsner LSU Health Shreveport contracted with Acadian Ambulance earlier this year to provide private, in-house transport services for our patients to and from other facilities to help ensure all patients receive the care they need as promptly as possible,”