Sweetwater County, Wyoming — Ambulance service in the county is failing and no one wants to take on the challenge of repairing the problem.
This was the message Commissioner Jeff Smith gave to his fellow commissioners during regular session Tuesday. It is his hope that the word gets out to the public so people are aware of just how serious the problem is and will help in finding creative, viable solutions to the funding issue.
Smith’s update comes as result of a recent meeting between service providers Sweetwater Medics, Castle Rock Ambulance Service, and Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County, which is considering taking over ambulance service. However, the issue is far from resolved.
“It was not the progress I was hoping for,” Smith said about his reaction after the five-hour meeting. “It is a mess.”
He characterized both Sweetwater Medics and Castle Rock Ambulance as being in dire straits. He said Castle Rock is currently losing $35,000 per month, while Sweetwater Medics is subsidized by the county to the tune of about $1 million.
Sweetwater Medics also is not able to raise its rates unless it is approved by the commissioners, as per the ambulance service’s agreement with the county. Smith said their rates are “way below” what is currently being charged on the national level and also below what Castle Rock charges.
Memorial Hospital has discussed creating a special tax district, but Smith said he is not in favor of this solution.
“What would it mean for the hospital to take it over? What would it mean for the county?” Smith asked, adding, “It’s a difficult discussion. How do you find balance?”