A contentious debate was struck at both the Riverton City Council meeting and the Fremont County Commissioners meeting on Tuesday regarding SageWest Riverton’s ability to give blood to patients.
On Tuesday morning, Diane Lane of Guardian EMS gave Fremont County Commissioners a presentation in Lander on Guardian’s performance over the first half of 2018. Guardian had responded to 363 “runs” for the year as of Tuesday morning.
A major point of interest addressed by Lane and expounded on by chairman Travis Becker, was that patient’s who needed to receive blood, had to be transported to Lander, even if they were closer to the Riverton hospital.
Becker first inquired with Lane, “Their blood-work stuff, they’ve messed it up. If you have a call and somebody has a giant cut, you cannot take them to the Riverton hospital?” Lane replied, “That’s correct, they lost their certification for blood typing.”
Becker then expressed his opinion on the matter saying he wanted to, “make it public, because it upsets me, it should upset many people in this county. I’m disgusted, we’ve had meetings with the hospital and I just don’t know that we’re getting the full facts. I’m hoping we’ll start a public dialogue with the people in that hospital to get to the bottom of this and to treat all people in this county equally.”
Lane explained that Guardian EMS has been instructed to take patients to Lander, “strictly for trauma, because they [Riverton] don’t have blood, they don’t have the resources to really stabalize a person there.” She noted that if a person is sick or injured and not bleeding, Riverton’s hospital is “very capable” of treatment. She said that she believed Riverton’s hospital will lose its blood certification for six months before it can re-apply.
“My concern is for the crews, you put the whole community at risk,” Lane said. “The travel runs a lot of risk factors for the whole community. I think the community needs to be aware.” She also explained that the extra hour of travel to and from Lander will put ambulances out of service for longer periods of time. Diane said that over the last month, her units have been “red lined” five times, meaning all units were busy at the same time.
The hospital discussion continued Tuesday evening in Riverton at the July 10th City Council meeting. The issue was first addressed by councilman Kyle Larsen, “I’ve had several people come to me, the hospital had an incident where two police officers took a stab wound individual up there, and they were unable to help them. Why? Because they lost their accreditation on matching blood.” Larsen continued, “I have it on very good word from several people that I’ve listened to, that they’re not moving in the direction that we want them to move. We won’t have a hospital, we’ll be all driving to Lander, and if thats okay, thats okay, its 25 miles, but you know, when you need them, you need them.”
Council member Sean Peterson didn’t attend the meeting in person, but did weigh in via telephone, saying “I’ve received several emails, texts, calls, about the hospital as well. I keep trying to hope the current management is doing the right thing and looking at the best interest, I know we want to tread lightly because they do provide a service, and they do provide opportunities for us there. But, I think that it may be something worth spending some effort and time looking into to see if these are just allegations or if they’re legitimate facts.”
After the two councilmen spoke on the issue, Riverton Mayor John “Lars” Baker weighed in on the issue with a different perspective, “When Alan Moore was here a couple months ago, he said, if you want to talk the hospital out of Riverton, you can do it. If what we do is use our positions to talk about what’s wrong with everything that’s going on there, then eventually the only thing people will see is all the stuff that’s wrong. If on the other hand, we talk about the stuff that’s good that goes on there, and there is stuff that’s good, then we will get people to be interested in the hospital and to believe it’s a positive force.”
Councilman Mike Bailey echoed Baker’s comments by expressing he feels the hospital has a tough time, “getting quality help.” Bailey continued, “There’s times when you come to my business and want to get your car fixed and I have to put you off for a week, because I don’t have enough skilled help to fix as many cars as there is sometimes. They’re a business and they want to make money.”
We have reached to SageWest and their comments are pending. We will update with more information when we hear more details from them. We also reached out to a spokesperson for Classic Air Medical who was unaware of the potential hospital issues at this time.
Riverton’s entire City Council meeting from Tuesday night can be seen below.