Dramatic changes coming for Colusa County ambulance services

Nov 12, 2014 7:17 PM by Brian Johnson

Enloe Medical Center says they're losing $300,000 a year providing ambulance services for Colusa County.

Enloe officials say it would take Colusa County to come up with that $300,000 in order to keep things as they are right now-two, 24-hour advanced life support ambulances stationed in Williams and Colusa.

Enloe's Director of Emergency Medical Systems Marty Marshall says an adjustment must be made.

"It's heartbreaking that we might have to make adjustments to the ambulance coverage in that community," Marshall said.

Marshall says Enloe has been the exclusive ambulance service provider for Colusa County since 1998, as long as Marshall has been in his role at Enloe, and about as long as Mark Marshall (no relation), has been a Colusa County Supervisor.

"It has been a good partnership," Supervisor Marshall said. "They've always provided great service for us, not only with ground ambulance but with the helicopter as well."

Marshall, who says Enloe has been extremely generous in continuing to provide services to Colusa County citizens, even when Enloe has taken heavy losses.

"Unfortunately because we're so sparsely populated, the number of calls they received just isn't enough to sustain two 24-hour, 7 days a week ambulances," Supervisor Marshall said. "And that's our challenge right now."

"As reimbursements have continued to decline, we've been losing money on a direct cost basis for probably three four or five years," Marshall (Enloe) said.

Marshall says the average collection rate on ambulance charges has dropped from 38% to 20% in under five years, and it's made more difficult when Colusa County medical patients only pay just over 20% of the cost of services.

Not to mention, he says 75% of Colusa County patients have government insurance.

"You don't have to be a rocket scientist to see you're going to lose money on that," Marshall said.

All that being said, the reality of the situation is this:
"If we don't have some kind of financial help in the next three or four months, actually two or three months, then I'll have to reduce one of the 24-hour ambulances back to a 10 or a 12 hour ambulance," Marshall said.

So when people in Colusa County call 9-1-1 starting in January, they might have to rely on an ambulance from outside the county, like Woodland or Willows.

"It's the expectation that an ambulance will arrive in 8,10, or 12 minutes and there will be times when that just won't be possible," Marshall said.

"We will resolve this issue," Supervisor Marshall said.
Enloe does offer an ambulance services membership program for Colusa County residents.

Click here for more information.


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