OXFORD — The City Council appointed members to its Health Care Authority and gave the board $100,000 during a called meeting Tuesday morning, much sooner than anticipated.
Council members approved an application to incorporate the Health Care Authority of the City of Oxford last week. Council President Chris Spurlin had said he hoped to have the authority organized within a few months, after submitting the application to the Calhoun County probate office and the Alabama Secretary of State. Instead, the council was ready to make appointments only a few days later, though as of Tuesday morning the board was awaiting acknowledgement from the secretary of state’s office.
“We’re going to do everything we can to make sure our citizens continue to have medical service,” Spurlin said after the meeting.
The seven-member authority may act as oversight for most health care-related facilities in the city, including nursing homes, hospitals and other care centers. Appointees include James Stewart, fire Chief Gary Sparks, Bobby Lee Malone, Saundra Waits Carter and the authority’s three incorporators, Cathy Denson, Samuel Hazle and Daniel Robertson. Each appointee has a term set to expire Aug. 31, 2024, effective immediately.
Councilman Steven Waits abstained from a vote to approve the appointees, and Councilwoman Charlotte Hubbard was absent, but the remaining three members voted in favor.
Spurlin said the board has “a lot of legwork” to do as it gets up to speed with the situation at Oxford EMS. Last month, the service had trouble making payroll as ambulance service calls dwindled.
The money appropriated Tuesday is addressed to the city Health Care Authority, rather than the ambulance service; Spurlin said part of the authority’s responsibility is oversight for Oxford EMS. Another part is determining the financial viability of the business and its ability to meet the needs of the community.
“I think we’ll use the authority to figure out what happens next,” Spurlin said. “We’ll get the EMS board to come to us, give us a report and updates on where we stand financially and operationally, and we’ll get reports from the medical board, and allow them to meet and start prioritizing.”
Spurlin said there had been some discussion of other projects the authority might oversee, but specific plans have yet to materialize.
During its meeting, the City Council also canvassed the results of last week’s municipal election. City Clerk Alan Atkinson read results from each polling place and affirmed that councilmen Mike Henderson and Phil Gardner had each won their respective seats on the council.
Assistant Metro Editor Ben Nunnally: 256-235-3560.