Providing EMS to western Moffat County too costly for Rangely | CraigDailyPress.com

Providing EMS to western Moffat County too costly for Rangely

Collin Smith

— The rising cost of doing business has not spared Rangely District Hospital’s Emergency Medical Services.

For the past 47 years, Rangely ambulances have served much of western Moffat County, from the Utah border halfway to Maybell and north to the bottom of Echo Park, said Shanna Kinney, Rangely District Hospital ambulance director.

“The cost has gone up and increased,” Kinney said. “We have our own mill levy through the hospital. The problem is, we don’t get any tax money from Moffat County.

“These are costs we just have to eat.”

In the past three years, Rangely ambulance calls to Moffat County have increased more than 100 percent, Kinney said. It’s up to more than 300 calls per year.

“We cover a huge area,” Kinney added.

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She estimated that area to be about 3,600 square miles.

Rio Blanco voters recently striking down funding for a proposed hospital district in the November election further squeezes circumstances for the ambulance service.

Without that funding, and without help from Moffat County for serving its population, the future doesn’t look good, Kinney said.

“There are times when I have two rigs out on Highway 40 and that leaves our Rangely area uncovered,” she told the Moffat County Commission. “We’re not getting compensated for that.”

Adding to the cost, it’s now a policy that the Rangely Fire Department accompany ambulances on their calls, Kinney said.

“It’s a hit-or-miss if the Dinosaur Fire Department or the (Moffat County) Fire District respond,” she said.

The Commission sympathized with Kinney, but said money is tight everywhere as counties in Northwest Colorado are trying to keep up with costs related to the energy industry – such as keeping up with road maintenance and repairs – and also needs stemming from population increases.

“I think for us, as the commissioners, we ought to evaluate the situation and come up with something, if somewhere (in the county budget) we can help, I would support that,” Commissioner Saed Tayyara said.

If the Rangely hospital has been all right for the past 47 years, though, it stands to reason they could be all right for a little while longer, Tayyara added.

“We’ve tried doing things where we didn’t have to (ask for money),” Kinney said. “But it’s getting to the point where we just can’t do that anymore.”

Tayyara recommended Kinney do what Moffat County has done recently and seek Colorado Department of Local Affairs grants.

Moffat County emergency calls have risen dramatically, also, said Tom Soos, The Memorial Hospital Emergency Medical Services director.

Between more highway collisions and additional illnesses and accidents from an increasing number of oil workers, Moffat EMS sees about 60 to 70 more calls each year.

The increasing needs further illustrate Northwest Colorado’s needs for DOLA energy impact grants, Tayyara said. Recent speculation in Denver has suggested severance tax dollars, which make up the majority of DOLA’s energy impact fund, might go toward statewide concerns such as higher education in the next state legislative session.

“We have to protect our interests and push for them,” Tayyara said. “Just because there is more money in that (DOLA’s grant) fund, doesn’t give the governor the right to raze that fund.”