Moffat County officials met with representatives of Rangely District Hospital on Tuesday to go over different ways they could get emergency services to Dinosaur and the surrounding area.
Rangely Hospital, which has been the EMS provider to Dinosaur for more than 50 years, sent a letter June 1 declaring they would no longer be able to afford sending ambulances to western Moffat County. The letter said services would officially stop after Aug. 31.
“I don’t want that place not covered by an ambulance,” said Bernie Rice, chief compliance officer for Rangely hospital. “But, the reality is, I want to keep this hospital open.”
The Dinosaur town council is in talks with Gold Cross, a private ambulance service that has service running out of Vernal, Utah.
Gold Cross should be able to jump right in and start making runs as soon as Rangely hospital stops, said Brooke Macias who is in charge of community relations.
“We’re ready to step in when those operations cease,” she said. “We have a full-time paid staff in Vernal.”
Even though Gold Cross is willing, they still have some licensing hurdles to get over to run ambulances in Colorado, said Emergency Management Coordinator for Moffat County Tom Soos.
“In order to operate an ambulance you have to be licensed in the county,” he said. Gold Cross “was not aware they had to be licensed by county and unaware that they had to have their EMTs certified in Colorado.”
No contract has been drawn up yet between the Dinosaur town council and Gold Cross. So, Moffat County commissioners are seeking a back-up plan.
We need “two contingencies,” said County Commissioner John Kinkaid. “One, that Gold Cross does work out but misses the deadlines. And, two, it just doesn’t work out.”
With both possibilities, county officials turned to Rangely hospital and asked for support. They asked that Rangely hospital extend their Aug. 31 limit in case it takes Gold Cross longer than expected to get licensed. Or, they asked the hospital to consider continuing its service.
“What do we need to do — if we can do anything — to continue service with you until Dinosaur is set up with Gold Cross?” Kinkaid asked Rice.
Rice said he could possibly extend the deadline, but not indefinitely. He also asked that Moffat County come to the next meeting with the hospital with their own numbers on how much it would cost to run an ambulance out of Rangely.
“If it comes down to where (Gold Cross) would not do it, I would want you to run the figures of what it costs to run an ambulance,” Rice said. “Then we can sit and talk.”
Moffat County had been paying Rangely hospital $12,000 to cover ambulance runs that came out of the hospital’s pocket. But, Rice said he’s losing more than that in western Moffat County.
Rangely hospital “has a legitimate point because as expenses go up and revenue goes down — you have to find out what your priorities are,” Soos said. Ambulances are “a really hard way to make a profit.”
After the meeting County Commissioner Tom Mathers said he was sure a solution was close.
“We’ll make it right the best we can,” he said. “It’s a matter of getting the right people in the right place.”
Erin Fenner can be reached at 970-875-1794 or firstname.lastname@example.org