Colusa County residents could feel the effects of the county’s budget cuts when Enloe Emergency Services is once again forced to reduce ambulance services this fall.
Enloe spokeswoman Christina Chavira said beginning Oct. 1, Enloe will reduce ambulance services in Colusa County from 48 hours per day to 36 hours per day.
“This will be a reduction from two ambulances available 24 hours a day, to one 24-hour ambulance and one 12-hour ambulance,” Chavira said.
The cut in services is in response to the Colusa County Board of Supervisors eliminating all but three months of ambulance funding from their proposed 2018-19 budget, an action they took on June 26.
“Enloe Emergency Services currently receives $22,000 a month from Colusa County as a subsidy to help maintain levels of ambulance coverage desired by Colusa and Glenn counties,” Charvira said. “The subsidy was designed to cover all the direct costs that Enloe incurred by providing ambulance coverage. This monthly subsidy is set to end in September 2018.”
Enloe first reduced ambulance coverage in Colusa County from two full time ambulances to one 24-hour and one 12-hour ambulance in 2015 after steadily loosing money transporting 1,200 to 1,300 patients per year, when at least 2,000 patients per year were needed to cover the direct costs of the two ambulances.
“Enloe Ambulance has provided safe, rapid response to Colusa County since 1998, however the call volume does not support two ambulances, and Enloe has lost more than $1 million over the past five years,” Chavira said.
Although county officials in 2015 worried the reduction in service would result in delays in response times, and had even considered placing a sales tax measure before the voters to fund services, the Board of Supervisors decided to “wait and see” if the reduction had negative impacts.
However, the sudden closure of Colusa Regional Medical Center in March of 2016 prompted the county to help fund ambulance services after they decided the ambulance turnaround to hospitals 30 or more minutes away would put residents at undue risk.
“The county began funding an additional 12 hours of ambulance service due to the lengthier patient transport times when CRMC closed,” said Colusa County CEO Wendy Tyler. “The cost to the county General Fund was $264,000 annually.”
Now that Colusa once again has a hospital with an emergency room, Tyler said the board would only fund the ambulance three more months.
When Enloe reduced services in 2015, it ran the Colusa ambulance 24 hours a day and the Williams ambulance from 9 PM to 9 AM, with the Willows ambulance as back up when needed. However, Chavira said the specifics for the new schedule has not yet been worked out.
“A decision has not been made yet on which stations will house each ambulance, nor on the hours of service,” Chavira said. ν