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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.

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As of 07/01/2018 Dr. Gregory Zolkowski, D.O. (Dr. Z) will serve as the Medical Director of Ripley County Ambulance District. Dr. Z is a fulltime emergency physician at S.E. Health of Ripley County, serving several years in that capacity. Dr. Z and his family make their home in Doniphan, Mo. Previously he worked in the Bolivar, Mo area. He received his medical degree from Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine and has been practicing for over 30 years. We look forward to direction from Dr. Z and welcome him.
 
 
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The District recently hired a new Paramedic, Eric Limbaugh who lives locally and comes to RCAD with over 20 years experience in EMS. Eric is a well known and highly respected Paramedic throughout all of Southeast Missouri having worked for several services in the area, including Shannon County, Poplar Bluff Ambulances Services, West Carter County Ambulance and others. We look forward to working with Eric and know he will be a valuable member of our team.
 
 
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Timber Berry, EMT-P recently became the newest paramedic working for RCAD. She has worked fulltime for the District since 2015, as an EMT. During the past twelve months she attended the Paramedic Program at Three Rivers College which consisted of hundreds of hours of classroom lecture and laboratory experience. Additionally Timber had to perform clinical experience at area hospitals and ambulance services. Working fulltime and going to school fulltime, while raising her family has been very taxing. Hopefully she finds lots of family time, while the residents of Ripley County also benefit from Timber's increased knowledge and abilities for years to come!