Dawson County commissioners to end county EMS services

Dawson County commissioners to end county EMS services

DAWSON COUNTY, TX (KCBD) - On Monday morning, commissioners in Dawson County decided to end their county EMS services.

Instead, a new program will be run by Medical Arts Hospital in Lamesa.

The court was packed with citizens and employees voicing their concerns. Then commissioners gave Dawson County EMS 60 days notice that their contract would not be renewed.

In September, the Medical Arts Hospital will gain four new ambulances belonging to the Medical Arts because commissioners all agreed that Lamesa is just too small for two competing ambulance facilities.

It’s something the Dawson County Hospital District has talked about ever since they formed in 2005.

"It just makes sense to bring something that is, in essence, medical, under the medical direction of our local ER doctors,” said Cris Norris, chairman of Dawson County Hospital District.

Citizens first heard about the issue last week and were naturally concerned about how it would affect taxpayers and the quality of care they would receive.

They did not want to fix something that was not broken.

But since the hospital board is a separate entity from the county, the Medical Arts Hospital did not need permission from the court.

“We feel like as a hospital district,” Norris said, “that we can and we will offer quality EMS service for Dawson County.”

The hospital employees think having their own ambulances is important because of the lack of communication with Dawson EMS. The hospital says they had a meeting with them previously, but nothing was resolved.

Some Dawson County EMS employees said there was really no effort to improve communication efforts from the hospital’s end.

Some citizens and hospital reps suggested that the current county EMS system would not take patients to a Lubbock trauma center immediately if needed, because they charge a fee per stop.

Consequently, since the Medical Arts Hospital is required by law to treat the patients before they can release them, sometimes it takes up valuable time that the patient may not have.

“You have this golden hour in which to make it happen to save that patient’s life,” said Dr. Mark Key, chief of staff at Medical Arts Hospital. “You put an hour together with a half an hour response time on that trauma on a transfer call, you’re outside your golden hour.”

Citizens cautioned the commissioners to make sure the hospital backs up their broad goals and statements with documents.

Norris told citizens that the tax rate will definitely increase, for the first time since 2005, but he did not have exact figures for Monday's meeting.

The hospital plans to have one ambulance available by mid-July and will get the rest in September. Dr. Key calls this a positive change for Dawson County.

“I think the quality of care will go up,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of training protocols, there’s a lot of different training that hasn’t happened in the past that we’re going to institute.”

As for the employees of Dawson County EMS, Medical Arts Hospital CEO Leitha Stokes says they will accept any applications and feels the ambulance facility will be stronger than ever under one roof.

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