On this week’s edition of Good Idea, Bad Idea, we present Audrey Ferguson, 51, of Dorchester County, South Carolina, who has for the last seven years gotten a ride to downtown Charleston, instead of driving herself — good idea. Unfortunately she decided to use the local EMS team to do it, by calling 911, feigning illness, and immediately signing out once at the hospital — bad idea.
It took a while for responders to catch on, because Ferguson, who is on Medicaid, does have some valid medical issues. When they noticed that she never actually entered the hospital when dropped off, however, they became understandably suspicious.
According to Dorchester County EMS Director Doug Warren, “She’ll have a vague medical complaint, for instance abdominal pain. … We transport her to one of the area hospitals and then oftentimes before we can get our paperwork completed she’s signed out from the hospital and gone on to do other things.” Her errands perhaps?
Warren called for an investigation and on April 2, 2013, police were ready for Ferguson when she arrived at the hospital to say she was fine and was leaving. She did leave, in handcuffs. When questioned she told police that she did not have a car, and that since she was on Medicaid, it all her rides were paid for.
Unfortunately at $415 a ride, plus mileage, for seven years of rides the bill comes to over $400,000 for the taxpayers. Ferguson was charged with unlawful use of 911 and filing a false police report.
As far as anyone knows, no one was ever unable to get an ambulance because of Ferguson’s little games, but the investigation is ongoing.