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Campbell County Health will take on ambulance services in Sheridan County

Matt Niemi
Flickr via CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Campbell County Health (CCH) and Sheridan Memorial Hospital announced a new partnership that will provide emergency medical services (EMS) to Sheridan County. The Sheridan City Council and Sheridan County Commissioners offered the EMS services bid to CCH after a competitive bid process.

The new partnership will form Wyoming Regional EMS, an LLC that subcontracts with CCH for ambulance services and which will be managed through CCH. It will be jointly funded by the two entities and will officially begin service Nov. 19.

Sheridan Memorial Hospital previously contracted out to another ambulance service provider for service in Sheridan County, and though that provider put forth a bid, Sheridan city and county officials declined to renew their service contract with them. CCH and Sheridan Memorial Hospital have been cooperating on intercity transfers since late April when Sheridan Memorial Hospital officials requested additional assistance in transporting patients to other hospitals. Intercity transfers occur when a patient is transferred from one hospital to another that provides a higher level of care.

“As healthcare in general is going through a lot of change in the way we do business, health care entities, whether it’s EMS or hospitals or even doctor’s offices, are really having to look at new ways of providing services to patients, and specifically with EMS,” said Chris Beltz, Director of Urgent and Emergency Services for CCH. “One thing that we're seeing sort of organically happening across the state is that all of the EMS agencies that have traditionally existed, all of us at times are struggling with recruiting staff, retaining staff, being financially sustainable, whether that's through increased operational cost and or struggling to maintain [and] handle increased revenue.”

The new service obligations will require hiring 36 additional staff, 24 of which will be full-time. This is in addition to the 60 or so existing staff CCH already for ambulance and emergency medical care. Sheridan Memorial Hospital had already budgeted around $276,000 for the service, which CCH will be paid in the form of a subsidy for the first year of operation. The overall cost is slated to be approximately $3 million per year to operate, Beltz said.

“Our goal definitely is to have a long-term relationship with the Sheridan area as their EMS provider, [and] we would prefer longer terms to those contracts,” he added. “As we work through that negotiation process, we certainly may ask for longer terms.”

After the first year, the contract between the two entities could be extended for an additional two years. It comes at a time when there are regular intercity transfers being conducted. Transfers may also be transported to other hospitals if need be, such as to Billings, Mont.

“Last month we did the record amount of our inter facility transfers, which was 57, we and the majority of those were out of the Sheridan area, which was around, I believe 40,” said Shawna Cochran, EMS Manager for CCH. “We've done upwards [of] around 300, with any year, so that's kind of where we’re on track this year to probably do more than that, while we've expanded into the Sheridan area.”

In addition to soon providing EMS services to Sheridan County, CCH also operates ambulance services that cover Newcastle and Weston County.

Weston County was previously served by a private ambulance service provider whose owner retired. CCH purchased the assets of the business and provided services based on that. Altogether CCH will soon be tasked with providing EMS services to three counties encompassing around 10,000 square miles, Cochran said.

Hugh Cook is Wyoming Public Radio's Northeast Reporter, based in Gillette. A fourth-generation Northeast Wyoming native, Hugh joined Wyoming Public Media in October 2021 after studying and working abroad and in Washington, D.C. for the late Senator Mike Enzi.
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