The city of Savannah said they are working with Memorial University Medical Center to clarify the billing process when police bring in detainees for treatment. This is the center of the lawsuit filed by the hospital against the city, the county and the police department.
Memorial Health University is suing over what they say are unpaid medical bills throughout the past five years.
The lawsuit filed Sept. 20, says these local agencies owe $443,000 in medical bills for treating about 100 "detainees" who were in the "physical custody" of officers.
Memorial submitted claims to the defendants for each detainee's medical treatment and defendants failed to pay, according to the lawsuit filing.
The city said they know they are responsible for most of the bills, but they believe there may be certain cases in which they are not obligated to pay.
For example, if a drug suspect begins to overdose in the back of a patrol car on the way to jail, the city doesn't believe they're responsible for that medical bill, because that person took the drugs before police arrested the person.
"We just do not want to set a precedent where we accept a blanket responsibility for all of these cases," said Bret Bell, city spokesman. "We're looking out for tax payer dollars. We understand Memorials position on it, and we're very sympathetic to that, but they also understand that we're responsible for being good stewards of tax payer dollars. "
CEO and President of Memorial Maggie Gill said in a statement: "We are hopeful that this suit can be resolved quickly. We appreciate the city's recent efforts to address this issue."
The county told WTOC they have received the lawsuit, but have no further comment.
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