---- — ELIZABETHTOWN — Elizabethtown Community Hospital has purchased a new ambulance that will be used to transport its patients for additional care.
It is a 2012 Chevrolet manufactured by Osage Ambulances.
The vehicle is stocked with new equipment and accessories used by the hospital’s emergency staff while transporting patients for additional care at other facilities. It is now one of two units owned by ECH and stationed on hospital property, ready to transfer a patient in minutes.
The addition of the second ambulance has cut transfer time in half, according to a news release from the hospital.
Historically, the hospital had relied on a number of transport businesses to move its patients. ECH created its own transport program earlier this year after those paid services were no longer able to maintain an ambulance in the Westport area. Those services now must travel 40 minutes to reach ECH.
“The issue is time,” Emergency Department Manager Julie Tromblee, a registered nurse, said in the release. “This hospital must ensure that patients receive the care they need as quickly as possible. Waiting for an ambulance service to travel 40 minutes to reach our facility, pick up the patient and then travel another 40 minutes to another facility is simply not an option.”
Local emergency squads bring patients to the hospital from throughout Essex County, some of whom are trauma or critical-care cases. After ECH staff provides initial care and stabilizing treatment, the hospital transfers these patients to other facilities.
Trauma and stroke patients are taken to Burlington via helicopter whenever possible. Patients that require cardiac care or emergency surgical procedures are typically transferred to Plattsburgh or Burlington via ambulance.
“ECH is a federally designated critical-access hospital,” Jane Hooper, director of community relations, said in a statement.
“Critical-access hospitals have a very unique and specific role: to assess and stabilize patients so that they can survive transport to a trauma center, heart center or stroke center to receive the specific type of care required.”
Patients with significant illness or injury have limited time to receive treatment — it’s known as the “golden hour.” Hospitals try to extend that time frame by treating and stabilizing the patient so there is more time to get to a larger facility.
The hospital has hired an ambulance driver, full-time critical-care emergency medical technician and part-time critical-care EMT.
Each of these people works within the hospital’s Emergency Department when not providing transport. Other hospital personnel are on call to drive the vehicle during evening hours, and nurses will occasionally travel with the patient when required.