WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Sedgwick County Manager Tom Stolz announced key changes to EMS following Dr. John Gallagher being placed on administrative leave with pay.
On Wednesday, Stolz announced an interim EMS director would be named as soon as possible. Deputy Director Paul Misasi and EMS Colonel Bill Robben are managing EMS operations temporarily.
It’s a change in leadership that Caleb Yoder, who has been a paramedic for Sedgwick County EMS for 17 years said he was looking for.
“Basically just not being open to input, and often dialogue from the employees, or there’s been a very, very hostile work environment,” said Yoder.
For months, Commissioner Jim Howell was vocal about looking into the leadership at Sedgwick County EMS.
“I don’t think it’s good commissioners have to get involved at this level. I don’t think you like us doing that,” he said regarding Sedgwick County Manager Tom Stolz. “I don’t want to do that either. But if things aren’t getting solved and we’re aware of it, we have to get involved.”
Sedgwick County Manager Stoltz said they will be looking regionally and nationally to fill the interim EMS Director position with the right person.
“We’re going to involve employees in that process, and give them a say, I’m going to visit with the candidates. So we’ll be working through the technical parts of that over the next few weeks,” said Stolz.
The announcement is leaving some county commissioners hopeful to move past this.
“We all have to move forward. We all have to understand, we play a role in helping this organization heal and getting back to you know the services that they provide on the street every day which is quality care,” said Commissioner Lacey Cruse.
Commissioner Sarah Lopez wants to see this move rebuild trust in EMS.
“Not only internally with our EMS department and staff and for them to realize that we value you so much and we hear you and we are ready to do what we can to make some of this right. But also that this will help build the trust with our community again,” Commissione Lopez said.
The county manager also announced that EMS operations would now be separate from the Office of the Medical Director.
“The merger just didn’t work, the employees were dissatisfied leadership let me down a little bit,” said Stolz.
“We need a director to manage the ambulance service and a doctor and a physician to manage the clinical care part,” said Yoder.
Dr. Carolina Pereira will serve as medical director until September, even though she announced her resignation earlier this month.
Other changes include a citizen review and advisory board for EMS services and a new policy that will enhance communications regarding complaints among employees in the workplace.
“It’s our desire to provide the best service possible and we appreciate public support,” said Yoder.
A new search for an EMS director will begin soon, and the county said it would involve the medical and public safety community and EMS employees.