From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 9, Number 11 - June 2, 2009
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Health Care District financial woes may harm EMS

by Mari Muzzi

The Rural Health Care District (RHCD) is facing financial problems and board members worry if the situation continues EMS and 24-hour health-care services may no longer be available in Sublette County.

“We can’t continue the level of health care (in the county) that we have now,” board member Dave Racich said during Wednesday’s meeting.

Board Chair Bill Budd said the amount the health care district is overspending covers the costs of operating EMS.

This year the RHCD received about $7.5 million from the county, but it wasn’t enough to run two clinics, a 24-hour health-care service and EMS.

Board members agreed the current funding is no longer paying all the bills.

“We could see well over a year ago that (the funding) wasn’t going to be enough money to take care of us,” Budd said.

They said the funding isn’t enough to manage EMS, which costs between $4 and $5 million a year.

“Once those expenses are paid there isn’t much left to run the clinics,” said RHCD CEO Lorraine Gatzke.

The plan for the health care district is to present its financial situation during the June 5 commissioners meeting.

Budd mentioned HR Bill 145, which would increase the amount the RHCD receives from the county. The bill will be voted on in May 2010 and even if it passes the district still would not see additional funding until the following year.

That leaves the health care district without financial help for the next two years and that is if the bill passes, Gatzke said.

Board members proposed an idea that would allow county residents to keep the same level of health care available now, which is to have the county commissioners take over the funding of EMS.

“My approach would be lets meet you 50/50 here, because we are way beyond what a rural health care clinic does,” board member Cindy Van said. “We’ll cover the 24-hour emergency service if (the commissioners) take over the funding of EMS.”

Board members agreed by doing that the health care district would not be in the financial shape it is in now.

“Everywhere else in the state EMS is handled by the county,” Budd said. “Especially, since we are one of the wealthiest counties in the state.”

The plan for the RHCD board members is to show the district’s financial dilemma to the commissioners in June.

“I just hope (the commissioners) can see that we have no place else to go, our money is outlined, we can’t go to the bank and borrow money, we have no assets,” Budd said. “So either we get some money from some place …or we are in a dreadful state.”

Van said the current funding only covers the clinics.

“When you look at the Wyoming Department of Healthcare’s Web site, what you get for (the current funding) is just an office,” she said. “We need to look at the entire system and what we can do for sustainability.”

Members said they were concerned about losing EMS in the county, if the RHCD doesn’t receive financial assistance.

This they said would be a scary circumstance, especially with the population growth in the county.

Board member Robert Harding said people could die if the EMS service isn’t available.

“We can’t go backwards and reduce services,” he said. “Our purpose is to take care of people.”

See The Archives for past articles.

Copyright © 2002-2009 Sublette Examiner
All rights reserved. Reproduction by any means must have permission of the Publisher.
Sublette Examiner, PO Box 1539, Pinedale, WY 82941   Phone 307-367-3203