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Galt Herald

Cosumnes Fire: Work Continues on Long Hospital Waits

May 23, 2024 02:27PM ● By Joe Wirt
ELK GROVE, CA (MPG) - Cosumnes Fire Department officials on May 15 provided an update on the time its ambulance crews spend waiting for hospitals to accept patients. The issue, which can occupy medical personnel for long periods of time, came up at the regular Cosumnes Community Services District board meeting.
Director Peter Sakaris noted that ambulance patient offload time (APOT), or wall time, decreased in April.
According to the fire department’s April report, wall time was less than 40 minutes in 90% of the cases in which the agency transported someone to a hospital. In previous months, the wait times were longer; in January, for example, the 90th-percentile wall time was one hour and 40 minutes.
Assistant Fire Chief Robert Kasparian said it is normal for wall times to drop in April.
“(The decrease) is pretty consistent with what we’ve seen for the month of April,” Kasparian said. “We typically have a high APOT time January, February, March, which is a result of flu season, with COVID and everything. … And then, as we’ve looked at the trending, it’s about on par with what we’ve seen over the past five years.”
Wall time had decreased by about two minutes countywide, according to Kasparian. Kaiser Permanente South Sacramento, the destination for half of Cosumnes Fire’s hospital transports, cut its wall time from 76 minutes to 52 minutes.
Wall time has been an ongoing concern for Cosumnes Fire and medical first responders across the region. When an ambulance crew takes a patient to the hospital, the crew must wait with the patient until the hospital admits them, reducing the agency’s ability to respond to other medical emergencies.
Looking at regional and state attempts to address the issue, Kasparian said Sacramento County recently allowed transport to destinations besides hospitals, such as mental health facilities. Senate Bill 1180, authored by State Sen. Angelique Ashby, D-Sacramento, would allow the department to be reimbursed for transport to alternate destinations.
“With regards to the entire county and the APOT times, I think it’s holding pretty steady,” Kasparian said. “We’re seeing a couple minutes’ changes here and there. Some of the hospitals are doing much better than they have in the past, but overall, I think we still have a long way to go.”
In other business, the board approved the release of $57,863 in unclaimed checks to the district. The checks, issued by the district as payment for various services, went unclaimed for at least three years, at which point state law allows the district to reclaim the funds. A staff report said the district had given notice of the unclaimed checks starting Feb. 23, with the final deadline to collect the money by April 8.
The board voted 4-0 to reclaim the money. Board President Jim Luttrell was absent.