Two Tyler-based ambulance providers have settled a lawsuit that involved claims of unfair practices in Smith County.
Under terms announced Tuesday, UT Health East Texas EMS will continue to provide ambulance service in a contract with the city and the county; Christus EMS will be allowed to transport patients between its hospitals.
In court papers, representatives of UT Health had claimed that having Christus sometimes transport patients was a violation of its contract. Christus claimed that the contract had created an unfair monopoly.
Leaders of both hospital systems said in a news release they were pleased with the outcome.
“This settlement is in the best interest of the citizens of Tyler and Smith County as it alleviates the confusion the dual ambulance operations were causing and allows UT Health East Texas EMS to remain the exclusive provider of ambulance and emergency transportation services in the city of Tyler and Smith County,” Moody Chisholm, CEO of UT Health East Texas, said.
Chris Glenney, senior vice president, group operations CEO, Christus Northeast Texas Region, said, “We are pleased to have this matter resolved in a manner that allows Christus EMS to provide our patients with seamless transportation between our Christus Trinity Mother Frances facilities. We look forward to providing necessary, lifesaving treatment to our patients when someone has made the choice to entrust us with their care.”
Calls for emergency ambulance service in Smith County will continue to be routed through UT Health East Texas EMS’s dispatch center and be responded to by a UT Health EMS ambulance, the announcement said.
Once an ambulance arrives, the patient or the patient’s family, can request that the patient be taken to either a UT Health or Christus medical facility, said Allison Pollan, director of communications for UT Health East Texas.
The settlement allows Christus EMS to operate in the county on a limited basis.
Christus EMS may move patients from its Urgent Care at 5414 S. Broadway Ave. and emergency room at its hospital at 8389 S. Broadway Ave. to its flagship hospital at 800 E. Dawson St.
“These transports allow Christus to maintain care for the patients that enter their system and desire to stay in their system,” the statement said.
Smith County Judge Nathaniel Moran said he was glad an agreement has been reached.
“I applaud the efforts of both hospital systems — UT Health East Texas and Christus Trinity Mother Frances — to work out an amicable solution and find a path forward without the necessity of additional litigation,” he said.
“Both institutions are vital parts of this community that have provided and continue to provide excellent patient care to the citizens of the East Texas region. As the county, we look forward to continuing to support both of their efforts going forward,” Moran added.
On Friday, the Tyler Smith County EMS Administrative Agency, an oversight board with both Tyler City Council and Smith County Commissioners Court representatives, approved extending the contract with UT Health East Texas EMS.
Some members of the board previously had expressed concerns about renewing the contract until the lawsuit had been settled.