Castle Rock Provides Update on County Ambulance Services

Castle Rock Provides Update on County Ambulance Services

Castle Rock Ambulance Facebook photo

SWEETWATER COUNTY — Castle Rock Hospital District CEO Bailie Dockter provided the Sweetwater County Commission with an update on ambulance services on May 2. 

Dockter said that since entering into a contract with the county to provide regional ambulance services in November 2022, labor has been their biggest challenge. She said Castle Rock offered 19 percent raises to Sweetwater Medics employees based off of salary studies they did to attract the employees to join Castle Rock. 

She said those raises seemed to help as they have retained their staff and got a good number of Sweetwater Medics employees to come on board. Dockter said they are providing three full-time ambulances, of which two are stationed in Rock Springs, at what is Sweetwater Medics’ property which they lease. The other ambulance is stationed in Green River. 

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“We’re using what’s called the dynamic deployment model where if both ambulances in Rock Springs are dispatched out, the Green River one will move to the midway point. Same as if Green River is out, one Rock Springs one will go,” Dockter said. 

While she said it’s rare that they have a third call out, it’s good to be prepared. Dockter said three ambulances is perfect right now, but that if they get 20 percent busier at all times then they would need to add a fourth full-time ambulance and eight employees at all times. 

Dockter said the response time for 911 calls is about six minutes, and 90 percent of calls are less than five minutes. She added that Daggett County has requested to help in the southern region, and that Commissioners Robb Slaughter and Island Richards have worked with Castle Rock to establish a meeting with Daggett County. 

Daggett County has said they feel prepared to take some of the calls south of Buckboard, Dockter said, as they have seven to eight employees and are able to respond to those calls quicker than Castle Rock can. 

Since December 1, 2022, Castle Rock has responded to 941 911 calls, as of meeting time, and since July 2022, they have responded to 1,350 calls. Dockter said the vast majority of those calls have come since they took over the service in Rock Springs. 

Additionally, she said Castle Rock has done 273 long distance transports to Utah, Colorado, and Casper since July 2022, and 70 transports where they pick up flight paramedics at the airport as of meeting time. 

Addressing Rumors of New Building

Dockter said Castle Rock is in talks with Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County (MHSC) to construct an ambulance bay at Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County outside the emergency room. She said it is an ideal location because of its proximity to the interstate. 

The Commission said this is a rumor they have been hearing and that they are “somewhat concerned” the Commission had not heard from Castle Rock or MHSC directly about this. Chairman Keaton West said those talks need to happen with the county and the hospital, as the hospital is a county entity. 

“The hospital board can be on board with it, but ultimately we’ll have final say on it,” West said. 

Commissioner Robb Slaughter, who is the liaison for the hospital, said that it is “somewhat disturbing” to him that the Commission has not heard anything on this until now. He said he has attended the last three hospital meetings and nothing has been mentioned about this building. 

Dockter said the discussions probably took place before Slaughter started acting as liaison.

Subsidy Could Decrease Next Year

Todd Toolson, Chief Financial Officer (CFO) at Castle Rock Medical Center, gave a report of the financials of the ambulance services. He said the contract is for $1.8 million per year at a maximum. This is designed to allow Castle Rock to break even, he said. 

If Castle Rock has leftover funds, those funds go onto the next year and the subsidy would decrease in amount. 

“We have approximately $1.5 million in net patient revenunes, our expenses are about $2 million, leaving our net loss at about $300,000 over four months. So we’re running about $125,000 loss per ninth, but the county is subsidizing $150,000 per month,” Toolson said. 

He said that means the subsidy is higher than the net loss, which is what they were hoping for. He is projecting that at the end of this year, Castle Rock will come in under the $1.8 million loss by about $150,000 to $300,000, which would mean a reduction for next year’s county subsidy. 

“We’re happy to be here and report that the subsidy next year is most likely going to decrease from this year, and that’s something we haven’t seen in this county for a while now,” Toolson said. “We’ve seen just a straight up increase in subsidy every single year and surely it would still be increasing if we still had those two separate services and didn’t have these combined efficiencies.”