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Wis. officials approve equipment, medication safe in preparation of hospital closings

Chippewa Falls officials approved the purchase of IV pumps and a medication safe for its first responders


A Chippewa Falls Fire and Emergency Services ambulance.

Chippewa Falls Fire and Emergency Services/Facebook

By Audrey Korte
The Chippewa Herald

CHIPPEWA FALLS, Wis. — With the January announcement that HSHS St. Joseph’s and HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital — along with all Prevea Health locations in western Wisconsin — will shutter, many residents and first responders have been concerned about how the closures will impact emergency responders and ambulance calls.

To alleviate some of the difficulties facing first responders, the Chippewa Falls City Council approved Tuesday the purchase of a medication safe for the fire department as well as six IV pumps for all six ambulances in Chippewa Falls . The total amount for the new purchases is $16,000.

Chippewa Falls Mayor Greg Hoffman said Monday the city is doing what it can to help the Chippewa Falls Fire and Emergency Services Department as the region grapples with the impending closure of multiple medical facilities.


“We want to help. We believe we have to support our first responders and make sure they have whatever they need to save lives,” Hoffman said Monday. “We are doing what we can, and the city and city council support our fire department and paramedics who rush their lives to save others every day.”
The city department restocked its medications and supplies at HSHS St. Joseph’s and HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital , which announced in January they would close.

Chippewa Falls Fire and Emergency Services Department chief Jason Thom told The Chippewa Herald that figuring out how, when and where to restock supplies was a top issue for his department. IV pumps are a related issue.

“In the past we had IV pumps. We had an agreement worked out with HSHS for the pumps. That’s where we obtained them through. And now we’re just going to pursue just purchasing our own IV pumps — that way we can administer medications out in the field and help patients to that pump. They will give the correct dosage of medication to that patient,” Thom said Tuesday.

The department will now own its pumps, and Thom said that will be useful for patients during longer transports to hospitals in Eau Claire .

“In the past, we used them at times for transfers and intercepts, that type of thing. But if it was a critical patient that we were going to transport to St. Joe’s to stabilize, we wouldn’t necessarily always have time on scene to get it set up before going to St Joe’s . However, now with a longer transport to Eau Claire , it will be beneficial for us to get that pump set up, get those medications running sooner.”

The six pumps cost $2,200 each, Thom said.

The two HSHS hospitals served as a home base of sorts for paramedics. Thom said in a January interview with The Chippewa Herald that his department transports about 1,200 patients per year to St. Joseph’s hospital and now that will have to change.

The idea of traveling back and forth to Eau Claire for every restock has been daunting, Thom said.

With that in mind, the city council also approved the purchase of a medicine safe to be kept at one of the fire stations in Chippewa Falls .

Thom said this will help the department, particularly at night and on weekends, now that they will not be able to run over to St. Joseph’s to restock medication.

“We were approved for a station med safe. It means they’re just keeping their medications secure here in our own safe instead of in the past where we used to always get them from the hospital. We’ll still get them from a hospital, but we’ll just secure medications on our shelves for when we can’t make a run to Eau Claire or doing high volume times. It’s a good safety net,” Thom said.

The medication safe cost the city $2,800, according to Thom.


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