Putting a price on Glenrock’s lives - MHCC may suspend local EMS service after July 1

Jackson Day photo
Perry Hershberger (at far right) voices his concerns regarding Memorial Hospital of Converse County’s potential decision to cut local ambulance service to Glenrock to Converse County Commissioners Mike Colling (from left) and Chairman Jim Willox (center). While Hershberger is a member of the Douglas City Council, he stressed he was not at the May 16 meeting as a councilman, but rather as “an EMT and concerned citizen.” 

Jackson Day

Ambulance service to Glenrock could soon be restricted to on-call-only responses out of Douglas if Memorial Hospital of Converse County (MHCC) implements their plan to restrict the service they provide as of July 1.
Rising healthcare costs and reduced reimbursements have caused MHCC to find ways to reduce costs, MHCC Public Relations Specialist Shawna Litzinger said in a press release to the Douglas Budget and Glenrock Independent last week.
While Memorial Hospital of Converse County (MHCC) announced its intention to downgrade the Glenrock ambulance service to an on-call service June 1, public outcry has led to the change being postponed until at least July 1, if not longer, according to Converse County Commissioner Chairman Jim Willox. Willox made the comments during a special Converse County Commission meeting on the topic May 16.
“We have gotten a commitment from the hospital to delay the implementation because of all the conversations that are going on. We will continue the conversations. There’s no decisions to be made today by anyone. Because of all the discussion, I don’t even think July 1 is the date anymore, to be frank,” Willox said.
Many community leaders, including Glenrock Mayor Bruce Roumell, Glenrock Police Chief Colter Felton and Glenrock Fire Chief Shon Lindsey, voiced their concerns regarding MHCC’s ambulance service cuts.
Roumell said he has experience with the ambulance service as he worked with it for almost 30 years.
“I know how it’s run – I know what’s happened in the last 17 years,” he stated after the meeting last week.
“I have some real concerns about what’s going on. Everyone in this county deserves the same level of care and response, emergency wise, as everyone else.”
With an on-call ambulance system, as opposed to the current full time system, emergency response time is expected to increase – and, that could put lives as stake.
Response times for EMS crews to reach to Glenrock patients from Douglas are of primary concern.
“Time is tissue,” Perry Hershberger stressed as he voiced his concerns to the county commissioners at the meeting.
While Hershberger serves on the Douglas City Council, he clarified that he was not addressing the commissioners as a councilman, but rather “an EMT and concerned citizen.”  
“Think about it this way: A child in Glenrock at the school waits 15 minutes and he’s no longer alive because those people took 10 minutes from the time they got the call to the time they got to the ambulance, then the (ambulance and EMTs) had to drive to the school (from Douglas),” Hershberger said, presenting a hypothetical situation.
“When (Glenrock) had a full time service, that same child . . . the (EMTs) could have left the hall and made it to the child in five minutes instead of 15. Of course, that child is alive.”
Willox explained that the outcome is ultimately decided by MHCC’s board of directors, who are appointed by the county commissioners.
“We meet with the hospital administration and members of the board monthly. Conversations have always been ongoing. We agree, we disagree, we discuss,” Willox said after listening to Hershberger’s concerns.
“(I) personally resist micromanaging the boards that we put in (place) because we put in really good people.
“If we want a hospital run like a business, then they have to make decisions. If we want them to be subsidized, then that’s another decision,” Willox said.
Roumell said he hopes to see the county take responsibility  (for ambulance services in Glenrock) and provide a good solution to the present situation.
“I hope the county steps up and does something,” he said.
“Are (county commissioners) going to step up and take care of it and make sure it’s done properly? Or are they going to say, ‘It’s totally up to (the hospital).’ They’re giving money to the hospital – they’re doing that, but it doesn’t mean they have to do any more.”
In the meantime, a meeting between MHCC officials and Glenrock community officials, including Roumell, Converse County Commissioners and others, was set by Police Chief Felton for Monday night (May 22).
However, Felton said in an email to the Independent that there would not be a quorum of any town or county officials, thus the meeting would be a private one between MHCC and community heads, “more of a business meeting.”
“MHCC has agreed to sit down and talk with us, so that’s what we’re going to do to try to reach a resolution to this issue. We will have no quorums as this is simply a meeting to discuss the issue that the hospital is facing and explore alternatives to a cut in the level of services provided. No major decisions will be made without a public meeting,” Felton said.
“My intention is to simply ensure that all officials in western Converse County are aware of the issue and the effects that it would have on us.”


Glenrock Independent

Physical Address:506 W. Birch, Glenrock, WY 82637 Mailing Address: PO Box 109, Douglas, WY 82633 Phone: (307) 436-2211

The Glenrock Independent is located in the Bronco Building

Office hours: Monday, Wednesday, Friday - 10:00 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday, Thursday - 9:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.

Subscriber Login