St. Charles Parish Hospital will be getting two brand new ambulances in January to replace two that had mechanical problems in a fleet of five.
Pam Norfleet, the hospital’s director of marketing, says that the two ambulances that had mechanical problems are no longer in use and the new ambulances will provide services on both banks of the parish.
Although Norfleet says that the hospital hasn’t received any complaints about ambulance services provided to residents, one family is hopeful that the two new vehicles will make service better and faster.
Shelita Morton’s 3-year-old son suffers from generalized chronic seizures, a condition that places him in the center of an emergency at least twice a month.
“I used to call for an ambulance to come get him during those times when he was having seizures,” Morton, who lives in St. Rose, said. “But they (the ambulances) would take too long and my baby isn’t allowed to ‘seize’ over three minutes before other serious things happen to him.”
Morton says she doesn’t blame the ambulance drivers. She’s more concerned with the lack of service.
“I just don’t think there are enough ambulances to service this rural area,” she said. “My son’s doctors don’t want him to ‘seize’ over three minutes because it could cause brain damage.”
Council Chairman Dennis Nuss says some of his constituents want to see ambulance services expanded.
“There are a lot of my constituents who wanted to see an expansion of ambulance services,” Nuss said. “But I believe the cost to add an additional ambulance and fully staff it would be somewhere around $500,000.”
Because of that, Nuss says opting to replace two units is a good idea.
“At least there will be some type of back-up system to transport patients to the hospital,” he said. “I think what was done before is some other ambulance units from outside the parish had to help out occasionally.”
Norfleet says the two new ambulances cost about $100,000 each.
“There is one ambulance in service on each side of the river – the east and west bank sides of the parish,” Norfleet said. “On average, the ambulances service about 450 residents per month.”
For now, Morton said she will continue to transport her son by automobile to the hospital in cases of emergency.
“I just can’t take that kind of chance,” she said. “Usually, the ambulance gets to the house within 10 minutes, but with his condition that’s still too long.”
Although there is currently only one ambulance on the east bank and one on the west bank, the services operate 24 hours per day, seven days a week.