BENTON COUNTY, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Northwest Health announced on Thursday it is ending current contracts to provide emergency medical services to parts of western Benton County and certain cities including Cave Springs, Centerton, Decatur, Gentry, and Highfill.

According to Benton County, the termination impacts two contracts: one is a three-year contract to provide EMS to western parts of the county and Decatur and Gentry that was recently renewed for another three-year term. The other is a second three-year contract for parts of the county and Cave Springs, Centerton and Highfill.

A Decatur woman, Donna Amos, is still concerned about the termination, and is worried another contract won’t be negotiated in time. She wants cities and counties involved to be open about what decisions are being made.

“It’s important to have that service. I’m getting quite well on in age, and we need to know we have that service available,” said Amos.

Benton County says it and the Cities of Cave Springs, Centerton, Decatur, Gentry, and Highfill were surprised by the decision made by Northwest Health. The county, in conjunction with the mayors of the respective cities, has “immediately” initiated a process to find a replacement EMS service for the affected areas and is confident that there will be no interruption in ambulance service to any of the approximate 50,000 citizens serviced by the EMS contracts.

The termination clause is for 180 days. Northwest Health will continue to provide service until then.

“Northwest Health has provided a very valuable service to many of our citizens in western Benton County over the past couple of years,” said Benton County Judge Barry Moehring. “We’re disappointed that they have chosen to prematurely exercise the termination clause to exit the contracts.”

Judge Moehring the county has already received interest from other providers and they will “very quickly” initiate a process to receive proposals to continue services in the affected areas.

“We are very confident that we will collectively select an outstanding provider and that service will continue to be provided at a very high level just as it is today.”

Northwest Health services will discontinue in January 2023.

Northwest Health issued a statement about the termination Friday.

“Northwest Health has notified Benton County that it will terminate the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) agreement, effective Jan. 30, 2023. Northwest Health EMS will continue to provide emergency response and transport services until then to ensure adequate time for the County to identify a new EMS provider.

Northwest Health made this decision in order to refocus resources on its hospital services and other points of care across the community.

Northwest Health has appreciated the opportunity to provide EMS services to western Benton County including Gentry, Decatur, Cave Springs, Highfill and Centerton for the past three years and looks forward to continuing to be a health resource for local residents through our large network of healthcare services and locations.”

Spokesperson, Northwest Health