Memorial Regional Health is committed to maintaining emergency medical services

One of Memorial Regional Hospital’s ambulances sits in its garage near the hospital.

Cuyler Meade/Craig Press Archive

Memorial Regional Health CEO Jennifer Riley told Moffat County Commissioners on Monday morning July 18 that she wanted them to know the hospital would not be making any changes to its emergency medical services at this time. .

“We don’t want to make any changes that would reduce services,” Riley said.

In 2020, a ballot measure to create a Special Services District to fund a countywide EMS program was defeated in Moffat County. In response to the failed ballot measure, commissioners appointed a task force to explore what a countywide EMS service might look like.

“If they were to come up with something that we really felt was a good solution for EMS, we would start participating in that solution,” Riley added.

Memorial Regional Health currently pays for and manages the EMS service in Craig. Riley said MRH is not obligated to make changes to its EMS program and has no plans to do so.

Riley said she doesn’t think the public is getting the right message from the task force and wants to make sure commissioners and the public know where the hospital is at to continue providing EMS.

“This is where we are for EMS – we’re not going to make any changes, and it’s not going to come down to a ballot initiative,” Riley said.

Riley said Memorial Regional Health gave the EMS task force all the information the hospital could have and added that it was not the task force’s job to audit the operation of EMS.

“At the end of the day, they’re bringing a recommendation back to the county — they’re not a leadership team,” Commissioner Melody Villard said.

Riley pointed out that MRH wants to help provide a countywide EMS solution, but she’s not suggesting that she has a solution to provide faster responses to emergency services in Dinosaur, which is near hour and a half drive from Craig.

Commissioner Tony Bohrer said Dinosaur representatives wanted to meet with the commissioners to discuss how to move forward.

According to Riley, the narrative around the EMS has become distorted and the public appearance has changed over the years. Meanwhile, Riley said, EMS staff kept their heads down, made calls and continued to do their jobs in the community.

“We talk about what EMS costs, but we don’t talk about the other revenue it brings to the hospital,” Riley said. “And we’re not talking about the service he provides in the community.”

Many emergency and ambulance calls end up being patients who are admitted for longer hospital stays, surgeries and additional medical services, which bring revenue to Memorial Regional Health. But that’s not usually how EMS is viewed, Riley said, adding that EMS has kind of gotten a bad rap in the public eye.

EMS also recruited new employees, according to Riley. Although the term “travellers” has been used in conversations about EMS, none of the EMS providers are travellers. Some staff live in surrounding communities, such as Palisade, and travel to Craig on their scheduled days.

When EMS personnel are not on call, they often provide critical emergency assistance for the hospital. For example, Riley said there was a night recently when the emergency room was incredibly busy and EMS staff helped out, which was a blessing for the hospital.

“We can’t make any changes at this time and we’re not going to make any changes at this time,” Riley said. “We are all about EMS.”

Richard F. Gandhi