CMH district manager assesses first year in Cedar County

Posted January 18, 2013 at 1:13 pm

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Editor’s note: On Saturday, Dec. 29, the Sun finally caught up with CMH Cedar County Ambulance District Manager Chris Loderhose after he had made ambulance runs most of Friday night and worked at the scene of a vehicle wreck Saturday morning. Our first appointment was at 2 p.m. Friday, but it was 3 p.m. Saturday before his schedule would let him talk to us.

Q. Basically what I want to know is how 2012 was for CMH (Citizens Memorial Hospital) in Cedar County Ambulance District and what you have planned for 2013.

2012 was a new venture for CMH EMS from the standpoint they have been part of Polk and Hickory County EMS for a long time. Branching out and taking on a new addition to their service posed some pretty significant challenges: hiring new personnel and making the different internal changes needed.

That was in addition to the fact that we were going through everything we were going through in Cedar County with a group of people that were upset with us who didn’t like the fact that St. John’s was no longer going to be there and that we would be providing ambulance service in the county – that presented its own set of challenges as well. Besides that, we were putting together a new addition to your EMS service.

It was just a great opportunity. If we go through it again somewhere else, it might go a little easier because of all that we have learned from the experience. It was a great opportunity that taught us a lot.

But we were up for the challenge. It’s gone extremely well. We know the obstacles that we have faced and the problems that we have run up against, but we feel good about that fact that we promised to come over and take care of people from an emergency standpoint. That’s what we are proud of most.

You’ve got to put aside all the differences of opinion of the ambulance service, whose name should be in Cedar County. You’ve got to take care of people, because that is what it comes down to. And that’s where we think we were extremely effective this year.

We have several things that we are looking forward to in 2013.

One immediately is education – education from the standpoint that is one thing we did not accomplish in 2012. We had so many “irons in the fire” and so many high level priorities that we needed to focus on in order to not be distracted with too many different things. We had to get settled in first and be focused on making this thing function well before we could go out and tell the public, “Hey, we want to help you learn about CPR, First Aid and things of that nature.”

2013 will be a great change for us — we will include our education coordinator. We want to help the First Responders with their education and do some community outreach. We have a post-certified instructor who can continue the education of the Cedar County Sheriff’s Department and the El Dorado Springs Police Department. If they are traveling to Jefferson City or somewhere else to get that education, they will be able to get it (EMS education) in Cedar County and hopefully keep up with the medical side of their post certification.

Q. Will there be any charge for that?

No, it’s going to be a free service. They are first responders for us, even though they are not part of the Cedar County First Responder program. Those law enforcement officers are on scene a great percentage of the time prior to EMS arrival. So, it is very important for us to keep up their education and work with them the best way that we can.

We hope to offer CPR and First Aid in the Community, too, for citizens who want to be trained or go on to become First Responders.

Secondly, the building of trust between CMH and the Cedar County First Responders has taken place over the past several months. We were working together much better, which matters for the sake of the outcome of a patient on scene. That working relationship is critical. Being able to get on scene and have a good trust relationship between us and the First Responders is nothing but positive.

That’s another high point. I just completed (at about 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 29) with about five hours of training with the First Responders at the Stockton Fire House. I had a very positive day with them. It’s been a challenge that is getting much better every day.

That is just what happens in a new relationship. There has to be those hurdles. Are you going to fall apart because of it or are you going to grow together? I think we are seeing where we are growing together to produce better patient outcome, better care on scene for the patient.

Q. I’ve seen indications of that at the ambulance board meetings. They are getting a lot quieter.

A lot quieter and, in my opinion, it seems to me, a lot more productive. A lot is getting done in a short amount of time.

When I think about ambulance service in Cedar County, I’m glad to see education being part of our focus. I’m glad to see that the relationship with the First Responders is getting better. I’m very glad to see the productivity of the board – it’s moving along very well.

Q. And it looks like the finances are working out well. The board has a lot more money than it did at this time last year.

We have seen some really good improvements. I don’t know what to equate all of that to. We take on some things ourselves in helping out with fleet management and around the buildings, those type of things. The crews do an overall good job of staying at the barns when they are supposed to and not out driving the ambulances around, like the board has asked them not to do. I think it helps reduce spending overall.

From our standpoint, everything is moving in a direction that produces an excellent ambulance service that has the best opportunity to get excellent care to the citizens who are paying the tax for this service. They deserve the best and they deserve to get it.

Q. Were you the one who announced that the FRA (Federal Reimbursement Act) money is going to increase in April?

That is correct. We received an e-mail from Jason White, who is one of the people heading up that program, stating that increase will be quite significant (in April 2013).

Editor’s note: In their bids to provide ambulance service to Cedar County, both CMH and St. John’s estimated that the FRA reimbursement to Cedar County would be $70,000 per year. The CMH bid offered to give the money to Cedar County. St. John’s bid was to keep the FRA money.

We are not going to reach that projected amount this first year, but if things go as we are being told, it could be significantly more than that next year. We’ll just have to see how it plays out. White is very positive about how the program is getting up and running at full speed now.

Q. Is there anything else you want to tell folks?

It is our one-year anniversary of being in Cedar County. We have met so many people. We have a lot more people to meet and to introduce ourselves. We took extra time hiring the right people, orientating them, getting the ambulances rolling and making certain everything was operating as smoothly as we could.

I think next year is going to be an even better year with us working with the community. We love the opportunity, the chance to be part of the Cedar County community. Just know that we have greater things ahead of us, and we are looking forward to serving Cedar County citizens.

“From our standpoint, everything is moving in a direction that produces an excellent ambulance service that has the best opportunity to get excellent care to the citizens who are paying the tax for this service. They deserve the best and they ought to get it.” Chris Loderhose, CMH Ambulance District Manager