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Commissioners approve intergovernmental agreement with City of Sidney for ambulatory services

Commissioners also conditionally approve ambulatory service contract with Morrill County Community Hospital

CHEYENNE COUNTY – The Cheyenne County Commissioners met for it's regularly scheduled meeting on Monday in which Chairman Darrell Johnson, Vice Chair Philip Sanders and Commissioner Randal Miller approved a conditional intergovernmental agreement with the City of Sidney and Morrill County Community Hospital to provide the county with ambulatory services in partnership with Regional West Emergency Medical Services to purchase two of its ambulances.

After coming back to the Board of Commissioners from the Board of Equalization, the commissioners heard two proposals read by Cheyenne County Clerk Beth Fiegenschuh from Morrill County Community Hospital (MCCH) in Bridgeport and Lexington Regional in Lexington. MCCH is roughly 40 minutes north of Cheyenne County and Lexington Regional is nearly three hours east of town.

Commissioner Miller asked if a representative from Lexington Regional was in attendance to answer questions, however, no representative was available and the discussion did not go further.

Then commissioners spoke to Morrill County Community Hospital (MCCH) Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Coordinator Shannon Odiet regarding the contract proposal.

Essentially, the proposal mirrors the nearly-expired contract with Regional West, however, the cancelation period was extended to be at least six months. The contract was also contingent on the county and City of Sidney's ability to purchase the existing equipment from Regional West to be able to use without a loss of service and to employ current EMS employees in Cheyenne County.

Additionally, the contract would require an intergovernmental agreement with Cheyenne County, City of Sidney and Morrill County Hospital EMS to purchase two of three ambulances from Regional West.

Commissioners Sanders and Miller concurred, the proposal from Lexington Regional was "not an option," and "outrageous."

Miller further stated, "The one from Morrill County Community Hospital is not exactly a good option either, as we will discuss here shortly."

According to all three commissioners, the concern with the proposal from Morrill County Community Hospital EMS was due to the requirement of needing to purchase ambulances, equipment from Regional West EMS to ensure a seamless transition for the July 1 deadline.

Miller's concern, as with Sanders and Johnson, was owning equipment not used or maintained by the county, but rather, by outside organizations as the county has previously done so in other circumstances that did not go well.

"I am not in favor of owning any ambulances – if I can be honest with you," Miller told Odiet and members of the public in attendance. "It is not in our (Cheyenne County) best interest to own equipment that another operates (MCCH)."

Odiet explained that even if Morrill County Community Hospital could purchase new ambulances to deploy for use in Cheyenne County, it would take a year or longer before the county would see those vehicles due to a shortage in new and used ambulatory vehicles.

If the City of Sidney and Cheyenne County Commissioners entered the agreement to purchase the two ambulances from Regional West, it would allow for a seamless transition between services ending with Regional West and services beginning with MCCH. Regional West is asking $100,000 per ambulance, not including some of the equipment on the trucks, in which MCCH will be responsible for negotiating being able to purchase the additional equipment.

Odiet explained he spoke to and is still in communication with an individual at the hospital to complete as seamless of a transition as possible and indicated additional details would be available at a later time. However, he also stated the hospital was not willing to negotiate the price of the trucks down.

Commissioners also reinforced the agreement includes current EMS workers in Cheyenne County working with Regional West would have priority on-boarding with MCCH prior to the July 1 start date.

"It's our intent to make a motion here in a little bit – for us to do our part and the city can do their part," Miller explained to those in attendance to Monday's commissioners meeting. "The intent is for MCCH to start July 1, with the current employees – that wasn't talked about a whole lot and I apologize for that, for those employees that are here today."

Miller and the commissioners elaborated they want current EMS employees in Sidney to know they will have a job come July 1, if they should choose to on-board with MCCH.

Regional West EMS Emergency Medical Technician Tony Balandran, who has been in the field for roughly 23 years, spoke before commissioners and told them he was impressed with the state-of-the art equipment, training and other career enrichment programs MCCH offers. He spoke highly of the training program offered through MCCH to ensure current EMS employees in Cheyenne County were trained, ready to serve the community on day one and to the standards offered through MCCH.

After much discussion and an executive session with City of Sidney Manager David Scott, Odiet and other interested parties to the decision, commissioners approved to enter an intergovernmental agreement.

The agreement is conditional on approval from Morrill County Hospital EMS board and Sidney Town Council agreements. The agreement would allow Cheyenne County and Sidney to purchase the two ambulances for $100,000 each initially, however, MCCH would be required to make five equal payments over five years at 0% interest back to the county and city; the first payment would be July 1, 2024.

"Cheyenne County and City of Sidney will have an inter-local agreement with Morrill County Community Hospital to help purchase two ambulances from Regional West Hospital to be paid back with five equal payments over a five year period, at 0% interest," Commissioner Miller motioned for and later re-elaborated on. "The annual installments will begin on July 1, 2024."

Sidney Manager Scott said it is too late to get a special meeting set for city council, however, it would be added to the City of Sidney City Council agenda for its regularly scheduled meeting on June 13.

Another Sun-Telegraph story will detail the rest of the commissioners meeting.


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