SD hospital proposes new emergency medical center to retain EMTs

Community Memorial Hospital officials plan to build an emergency medical service building, equipped with housing, a training center and storage for supplies


By Shannon Marvel
The American News

REDFIELD, S.D. — At least three of Spink County Ambulance’s emergency medical technicians rely on the generosity — and couches — of others when they’re on call.

That’s why officials with Community Memorial Hospital in Redfield plan to build an emergency medical service building, equipped with housing, a training center, a garage for the three ambulances and storage for supplies, said the hospital’s CEO Michael O’Keefe.

“We’re fortunate in Spink County. We’ve got a full staff, but it’s getting harder and harder as more people are living outside the city. Bumming a couch from people doesn’t seem appropriate,” O’Keefe said.

“You have to find a place to stay while you’re in town, and it’s just not conducive for long-term viability. This plan is an effort to develop staff retention and recruitment,” he said.

O’Keefe said three emergency medical technicians live 15 minutes away from Redfield.

The two-level building will feature living quarters that include sleeping area, kitchen and showers.

O’Keefe said the training area is needed to have all the necessary supplies on hand and to keep up with teaching requirements.

Now, the training room is a small room in the hospital, ambulances are housed in two different garages and supplies are stored in multiple spots throughout the hospital, he said.

“When you’re on call you get a very small stipend, but you have to be able to respond in five minutes. Having it all under one roof makes it more efficient and would certainly help with the retention and growth of the program,” O’Keefe said.

Designs for the building have been presented to the Redfield City Council and Spink County Commission, who O’Keefe hopes will financially contribute to the project.

The initial estimated cost is $820,000, which does not include furnishings, O’Keefe said.

“The hospital is city-owned. The city and the ambulance (service) and county went together to purchase the ambulance. For the past number of years it’s been doing just fine, but we’re now running into workforce challenges in the EMS world,” O’Keefe said.

Both the city and county fund and use Spink County Ambulance, though day-to-day operations are run by the hospital.

The goal is to have the funding and building site secured, verify the project plans then get construction bids before the end of next year, O’Keefe said.

Construction of the building shouldn’t affect the main hospital, he said.

Spink County has eight active emergency medical technicians, O’Keefe said, with another eight who remain licensed and certified to help, when needed.

“Ultimately, when working with city and county, we’re hopeful that in late 2020 we can open up the new center,” he said.

Copyright 2018 The American News

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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