Counties Petition WV Governor for More EMS Funding

The photo shows a white ambulance.
File Photo

Ben Conley

The Dominion Post, Morgantown, W.Va.

(MCT)

The Kanawha County Commission is asking its counterparts across the state to petition Gov. Jim Justice for money to stem the loss of EMS professionals in West Virginia.

Monongalia County Commission on Wednesday recognized a letter from Kanawha County Commission President Kent Carper to Gov. Jim Justice.

The letter echoes comments the commission heard firsthand in December from Delegate Joe Statler, R-Monongalia, who chairs the House’s Committee on Fire Departments and Emergency Medical Services.

Statler told the commission EMS services statewide are facing a funding and personnel crisis.

In the letter, Carper points out that data provided by the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources shows nearly 30 % of the state’s certified EMS providers were lost between 2019-21. Whether they left the state or just the profession, that number represents a loss of 1, 643 emergency medical technicians and 258 paramedics.

The letter asks Justice to allocate funding to address the issue, much like the state’s recent announcement that it would use CARES money to help address the nursing shortage.

Monongalia County Administrator Rennetta McClure said the Kanawha County Commission is asking other counties to pen letters as well.

In other news from Wednesday’s commission session, Commission President Tom Bloom announced changes to how the cold weather shelter at Hazel’s House of Hope will function going forward.

There are two substantial changes.

One, the warming shelter will now be seasonal, not weather dependent, meaning it will be open regardless of temperature.

Two, the Bartlett House, which operates the cold weather shelter, is clearing the slate in terms of individuals who have been barred from their facilities.

“The Bartlett House will start anew and not turn anyone away from winter services with the understanding that the safety of staff and all clients … is our number one priority, ” Bloom said. “Any future violations could result in another potential refusal of service.”

In the event that Bartlett House exceeds its capacity, Bloom said talks are underway regarding use of the first-floor space identified as the future home of Hope Hill Sobering Center as the emergency overflow shelter space.

Lastly, the commissioners pleaded with the community to be mindful of the ongoing pandemic as numbers continue to spike.

“Please, COVID is exploding in this county, ” Commissioner Sean Sikora said, explaining the county surpassed a rolling daily average of 200 new cases per 100, 000 people this week.

That number, which is still climbing, has far surpassed the previous high of 120.

“Please, please, please, be careful. Mind your three W’s. Wash your hands, wear a mask and watch your distance, ” Sikora said.

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