On Saturday, December 22, 2018, the family of Bill Jenkins was presented a plaque commerating over 20 years of service that Bill Jenkins provided to Ripley County Ambulance District and the residents of Ripley County. Bill served as the Board President and unexpectedly passed away in June of this year. While President, he worked diligently with the other members to bring noticeable chances to the District. Some of the more significant changes that occured during Bill's leadership, the Ambulance District started operating on it's own in 2007, the entire vehicle fleet was replaced within seven years, going from two units to four. Two additions to the building, one of which included new crew quarters providing adequate living space for ambulance crews that are based here 24 hours a day, wage increases and benefits including health insurance to help the District remain competitive with areas services, updated cardiac monitors allowing us to transmit ECGs to Poplar Bluff before leaving Ripley County, providing potentially faster life saving treatment upon arriving at the destination hospital, motorized stretchers to help alleviate injuries to employees and many other improvements. During this dedication to Bill, the family was also informed that the ambulance building itself would now be known as the Bill Jenkins Memorial EMS Building.
As most of the residents living in Ripley County are aware, the local hospital Southeast Health Ripley County will cease operation on October 15, 2018. While this is an extremely sad day for local citizens, we are told that there continues to be an effort by the hospital’s Board of Directors and Missouri Highlands Health Care to hopefully make this a temporary situation. Ripley County Ambulance District supports all efforts to do so and we will continue to provide the best pre-hospital care possible.
The closing of the emergency department will cause changes in the way we operate. In the past residents that presented to the local emergency department could be transported to other tertiary health facilities including hospitals in Cape Girardeau, St. Louis, Jonesboro, Memphis and Little Rock, etc. Those Hospital to Hospital Transfers will no longer be available with the emergency department closing.
Residents utilizing the District’s ambulances in an emergency, will now have limited choice as to the destination they are transported. Nearest Appropriate facilities to which the Ambulance District will transport patients in emergency situations are Poplar Bluff Regional, Black River Medical in Poplar Bluff Missouri and Five Rivers Medical Center in Pocahontas, Ark. We will not be able to transport any patients to clinics or Urgent Care Centers and have not been able to transport patients to the Urgent Care Center at John J. Pershing VA Medical Center for the past two years.
We are also required to follow certain treatment and transport guidelines with respect to Stroke, STEMI and Trauma Centers. The nearest Stroke and STEMI Center is Poplar Bluff Regional Medical Center and the nearest Trauma Center is St. Francis Medical Center in Cape Girardeau.
When necessary and appropriate we will continue to utilize local Air Ambulance Services. In our area, we have two services, Air Evac Life Team based in Poplar Bluff and Survival Flight located in Pocahontas, Ark. When needed both services, weather permitting, can usually be here in minutes when they are not involved in other emergencies.
In Closing, Ripley County Ambulance District would like to thank all of the physicians, nurses and ancillary staff who made our local hospital a great place for medical care and let them know that the Ambulance District will continue to work hard to achieve the best outcomes for our patients, just as they have for so many years..