The best little hurricane response company no one ever heard of has been handed a contract by the Jindal administration to provide physicians, nurse practitioners, registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, nursing assistants, respiratory therapists, licensed social workers and clerical and administrative staff in case a major hurricane strikes Louisiana.
And the company is in Wisconsin.
Response Systems, Inc., a company in Oconomowoc (can I buy a vowel?), Wisc. was named recipient of the $871,000 contract, apparently because it is more qualified in hurricane relief than any other company from Texas to Florida.
Funny thing is, no one in Wisconsin seems to know squat about the firm.
A business reporter for the Milwaukee Journal knew nothing of the company other than a story that ran several years ago naming a new vice president/general manager who is no longer with the firm.
Even stranger, Bob Duffy, Director of Economic Development for Oconomowoc, drew a blank when asked about the company on Monday. “I never heard of them,” he said.
One would reasonably think that the director of economic development in the very town in which Response Systems, Inc. is domiciled would know of the company and whether it was a viable, thriving member of the local business community.
It required a fairly extensive search, but a web page for the company was finally found which offered some information about the company. http://www.disasterpreparation.net/about-news.html
LouisianaVoice attempted to call Response Systems but got the voice mail of the firm’s registered agent, Todd Grainger.
Here’s what we do know:
- The contract with the Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) runs from Feb. 1, 2012 to Jan. 31, 2016 and is for emergency preparedness and readiness training—something we just assumed in our own naïve way was the responsibility of the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness. After all, what is the function of a state agency with a current budget of $1.3 billion—unless it’s just to be sure the state has a sufficient supply of ice for the next hurricane?
- The company will get even more money in case it has to do anything—like providing medical teams in the event of a disaster.
- Response Systems would be called out for a minimum five-day deployment at a cost of $290,714, plus travel and meals—that’s over and above the $871,000 contract amount.
- The company may provide staffing of more than 150 licensed personnel to ensure operational efficiency and recovery in the event of a mass medical surge or evacuation.
- The company must have teams in place within 48 hours of call-up.
- Response Systems, Inc. employs fewer than 10 people and had revenues of less than $500,000 last year, according to an online business profile service.
- The company was first incorporated in January of 2009, was sent a notice of administrative dissolution for failure file an annual report on Oct. 1, 2010, and was restored to good standing after filing its report on Oct. 28, 2011—barely three months before entering into its contract with DHH.
In perhaps the irony of all ironies with this administration, DHH Secretary Kathy Kliebert was quoted as saying, “If the event (a hurricane of some like disaster) goes on for a prolonged period of time, we didn’t have the staff to really staff those shelters appropriately.”
Might this be because Jindal has gutted state agencies with widespread layoffs so that he could contract with these private firms? Could this be another CNSI on a somewhat smaller (like $200 million smaller) scale?
While LSU has provided professional staff in the past, state public health nurses are getting fewer in number with the cutbacks and Kliebert said hospital privatization changes which have occurred recently made the contract necessary. Really?
State Health Officer Dr. Jimmy Guidry added that while it was nice to have had support from LSU in the past, “It’s a new day. Business is different. We have to get a little more creative.” Really again.
The company’s website says Response Systems, Inc. has contracts with several other states, including Colorado, Washington and Kansas for similar services.
The web page said it is actively recruiting medical teams to assist with on-demand mass evacuation operations on the Gulf Coast.
“We are respectful of the large responsibility Louisiana DHH has tasked us with,” said Grainger on the website. “Our ability to successfully carry out past response missions in Louisiana is a key building block to insure a now larger statewide construct of support.”
The website described the company’s role in assisting DHH following Hurricane Gustav in 2008.