Madison County – Recent resignations from Madison Medics, the ambulance service for Madison County providing emergency medical service for county residents, left some citizens concerned. Madison Medics insiders think some of the resignations occurred because of what they call the “unqualified” hiring of Mark Snelson, Madison County Commissioner’s Chairman, in the manager’s position.
“There have been six people quit over this, and I look for there to be more,” one insider who wished to remain anonymous told the Tribune. “As far as the process went for hiring the new manager, they did it internally within the agency. There were three people who put in for the job, one of which was acting as the interim manager until they filled the position. Two of the three [applicants] met the qualifications that were set for the position. Mark was the only one that didn’t have the qualifications.”
Asked if Snelson’s hiring was a “Quid Pro Quo” for the county awarding the contract to Watauga Medics? They did not answer but sent this: “This was sent out to all the employees here at Madison Medics.” The source sent a three-page document showing qualifications for the job (see photo on this page). “When Watauga Medics was awarded the contract, Michelle Boone, who was our manager at the time, told Craig Sullivan that he should come down and talk with the employees here and be available if any wanted to meet with him one-on-one. Mr. Sullivan did that and the vast majority met with him one-on-one. He was told that due to Mark’s management skills and the ways he did things when he was interim manager, with Mission Hospital, that he would lose a lot of employees. Craig told all of us that Mark was not going to be manager here. I guess he lied to all of us.” When the contract came up at the Madison Commissioners’s meeting, it should be noted that Snelson recused himself from the vote.
“I just don’t see how this is not a big conflict of interest with Mark being a county commissioner when the county awarded Watauga Medics the EMS contract, and is the commission chair, and was given the manager position now. I know Mark recused himself from voting, but this seems very fishy,” said the source.
What does Craig Sullivan have to say?
The Tribune sent Sullivan the three pages of qualifications and asked whether he can confirm these qualifications were what he was looking for in a manager for Madison Medics. If so, did Mark Snelson meet all these qualifications? If not, why did you hire him for the position? “No, those are not from me I am not sure where they came from,” replied Sullivan. “I posted the job internally to Madison Medics employees. I had three applicants. I set up an interview panel and interviewed all three of the applicants. Everyone on the panel agreed Mark Snelson did the best. He has at least 10 more years of experience than anyone working in Madison. He has great leadership abilities and is very well respected by the citizens of Madison County.”
Asked if there was a list of qualifications for the position, Sullivan said, “There was no list of qualifications!” Whether Sullivan sent out the three-page document or not, the two anonymous sources and Snelson did confirm the list of qualifications were sent out to employees.
Who else applied for the job?
A second anonymous insider confirmed that there was a three-page list of qualifications that were given to employees for the manager position.
“We were told if you meet these qualifications and would like to apply, then by all means, do so. There were only two people who took time to apply, that was Steven Stoddy and John Hancock. They were both fully qualified, according to the statement they sent out…Snelson said he was not going to apply and we figured out that was BS pretty quick.” They believe that Snelson already had the job and the act of interviewing was just a “big show.”
The source said several have left and have all given different reasons for leaving, but “ the real reason” is because of the hiring of Snelson. They said at least six or seven left the job or others moved to part-time. “It’s going to be real difficult. There are probably 30 to 40 shifts that are open, 12-hour shifts, for this month. Hopefully, they’ll get them all covered. They’re going to work people to death to try and cover them.” Asked if the vacancies were creating a health and safety concern for the county residents, the source said, “I would say so. It will be detrimental to the service for sure.” The source said more than a 100 years of experience in emergency medical expertise had been lost with personnel leaving Madison Medics.
Snelson speaks on the record
Snelson confirmed to the Tribune that there was a three-page list of qualifications and that he met all but one of the qualifications.
“I didn’t finish my degree. That’s the only thing I didn’t meet, but…I’ve worked here for 31 years. I’ve been a supervisor for 17 years and during those 17 years, there were four years I was interim manager twice.” He went on to say he didn’t want the job because it was salary and he was an hourly employee. “I have tons of experience…as for the others who put in for it, they have nowhere near the experience that I have.”
Asked about employees who have left Madison Medic, Snelson named about five who had left for what he said were various reasons. Asked how many openings were available, he did not say but said, “I’ve hired four out of those five [open positions],” of which only two of the new hires are full-time. He said more applications were coming in this week.
Snelson said, “The good thing about this group that stayed is, they everyone put in and worked a little overtime, so it wasn’t a burden for just a few people. All of them that are working now are picking up an extra 12-hour shift.”
Asked if he foresees the loss of personnel at Madison Medic a concern for them to handle calls for the county’s medical emergencies, Snelson said, “No, actually back when Mission had it about five years ago, it was one of the times I was interim manager and we were four people out and eight people vacationing in June and July and that was probably the worst I’ve seen it.” He said he believed that Madison Medic would be back up to “…full staff by December 1.” Queried if overtime was becoming a problem on the budget, he said, “Not as of this time because the people who left had been here a long time so were not paying that hourly wage, plus their retirement plus their insurance.”
Asked if he had a meeting with Sullivan before Watauga Medics were awarded the contract for Madison County? “The first time I met Craig Sulivan, the first time I spoke to him, he came and did a presentation when they had put in for the contract…When he was awarded the contract, I recused myself from voting because I worked for the hospital.” Questioned if his hiring was a “Quid Pro Quo” for Watauga Medics, being awarded the contract, Snelson said, “That is not correct and he (Sullivan) will vouch for me and himself on that.” He added that Sullivan did not send anything about qualifications but was looking for someone who could keep this going in the right direction and that’s when I actually put in [for the job]. I did not initially put in when it first came open.”