At their Jan. 22 meeting, Liberty Township trustees said a committee of area leaders is working toward a “very promising” solution that does not include replacing the township’s emergency medical services.
At the same meeting, trustees voted to replace their embattled medical director.
For two months, township trustees have discussed a proposal from Delaware County that would replace the township’s cross-trained fire and EMS services with their own exclusively EMS-trained crews. The change reportedly would save the township an uncertain amount on reimbursements to the township and other fees paid.
Trustees Melanie Leneghan and Mike Gemperline have consistently supported the idea of exploring that change, while Trustee Shyra Eichhorn has vehemently opposed any change.
At each board of trustees meeting since the proposal was made public in November, angry residents have vocally demanded that the Liberty EMS remain under the control of the township.
For the first time Jan. 22, Gemperline and Leneghan acknowledged an outcome that does not result in changing EMS providers.
Leneghan began the meeting by telling the crowd that “a lot of good things have been happening.”
She said a committee of four men has been assembled to research the issue. That committee includes Liberty fire Chief Tom O’Brien, city of Delaware fire Chief John Donahue, Delaware County director of emergency communications Patrick Brandt and Delaware County emergency medical services Chief Mike Schuiling.
Leneghan said that committee has been having “very promising” conversations regarding the Fitch Report, the county's 2018 EMS assessment that began the conversation. She said she believes a solution can be found that will “improve our service levels without replacing our EMS.”
“They are addressing the service issues that were brought up in the Fitch Report -- things I’ve been concerned about for years,” she said.
Despite the slight change in direction from Leneghan and Gemperline, the contentious nature of the meeting matched those before it.
During the public-comment portion of the meeting, a resident began speaking about concerns she had with Leneghan’s handling of the EMS issue.
As the woman spoke, Leneghan repeatedly interrupted and told her she could not continue because she did not “stay on topic.” She told the woman she could either sit down or leave.
During the scheduled-business portion of the meeting, Gemperline and Leneghan declined to second a resolution submitted by Eichhorn that would reject Delaware County’s proposal.
Eichhorn said she felt the resolution would send a message.
“Actions speak louder than words,” she said.
Leneghan, however, said rejecting that proposal is “inappropriate,” and said the township doesn’t have enough information to stop negotiating about the proposal.
“That proposal is still being massaged,” she said.
“I don’t want to tell (Delaware County), ‘No thanks, we don’t want your help,’ ” Gemperline said.
Ultimately, the resolution was tabled.
Also Jan. 22, trustees voted to replace longtime medical director Warren Yamarick.
Yamarick has been a vocal opponent of the proposed changes, and was removed from a Jan. 7 meeting by Leneghan, who refused to allow him to speak. His contract was extended through January, but not renewed for the remainder of 2019.
Yamarick filed a lawsuit Jan. 18 against Leneghan for “deprivation of rights” related to the encounter.
Gemperline and Leneghan voted to appoint a new township medical director who would be put in place by Ohio State University. Eichhorn voted against the resolution, and said she received a copy of the contract just a day before.
“I don’t feel that there was a true bidding process ... so I can’t imagine that we would move ahead,” she said.
Leneghan said she believed the change was best for residents.
“Everything is about patient care,” she said.
Leneghan barred O’Brien from speaking on the topic, and moved forward with a vote without the chief’s public input, despite Eichhorn’s request for his opinion.