ETMC pulls ambulance services to 5 East Texas cities - KYTX CBS 19 Tyler Longview News Weather Sports

ETMC pulls ambulance services to 5 East Texas cities

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GLADEWATER (KYTX) - Cities across East Texas are working hard to find a way to keep emergency services.

The East Texas Medical Center says cuts had to be made, and that meant pulling ambulances from some cities.

Gladewater city council voted to form a contract with a new service, Champion EMS, based out of Longview.

But it's going to cost them about $90,000 a year.

People paid a small amount on their water bill before to help the cost from ETMC.

But it's unclear how champion would be paid for.

Still, people in town today felt uneasy about the news.

This diner inGladewater has a pretty regular crowd.

"Everyday they come in and eat," says Tammy Parks.

Waitress Tammy Parks says ETMC EMS workers stop by Fork all the time.

She was upset to hear the hospital system pulled the ambulance service from the city.

"I think it should be reconsidered, and think about the people. Get your budget cuts somewhere else," says Parks.

"It's scary because it's a necessity, it's health, it's not material things," says Jess Woodfin.

Woodfin was worried about the decision too.

ETMC released a statement about the cuts to Gladewater, Frankston, Van, Alto and Wells.

"Due to cuts in reimbursement from medicare, medicaid and private insurance, the East Texas Medical Center Regional Healthcare System is reducing spending by 5 to 7 percent this year. These are difficult decisions to make but necessary..."

ETMC has had an ambulance housed here at the Gladewater fire station for more than 20 years, the city manager says even if the color of the ambulance changes, someone will be here for emergencies.

"Our job is to make sure it's as minimal an impact as possible," says Gladewater City Manager Sean Pate.

He says it will cost about $90,000 a year to use Champion EMS.

But he says the cost shouldn't be passed down to people in town.

"How can we do that with minimal interruption to city services already provided and offset that with any additional revenue we might obtain," says Pate.

Pate says it will come down to shifting funds in the budget, not services.

"Happens to everybody, but don't put it where people lives are going to be at risk," says Parks.

We did try to reach out to the other cities today to hear what they plan to do.

Alto will have a meeting Monday at 6 pm at city hall to discuss the next step.

The other cities did not get back to us.

ETMC sent letters to the cities about a month ago to give them time to work on a solution.

The ambulance services will be pulled out July 15th.

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