Editor’s Note: The story was updated with information from AMR about their monthly report.
NATCHEZ, Miss. (WJTV) – The manager of American Medical Response (AMR) in Natchez presented its monthly reported to the Adams County Board of Supervisors on its EMS performance and services.
AMR Chief of Operations Tim Houghton said while the company cannot speak to any specific facilities’ staffing levels, when hospital beds are full, AMR’s performance and availability can be impacted.
If beds are unavailable at hospitals, AMR waits with their patients in the emergency room while continuing to provide high-quality care. Houghton said they’re unavailable during that time to respond to the next 911 call.
During the Board meeting, Houghton discussed these examples with the supervisors to highlight the challenges emergency services and facilities are facing.
“AMR has enjoyed a longstanding relationship with Merit Health Natchez and in no way suggested that Merit Health Natchez is having issues that other facilities are not. The healthcare sector as a whole is facing many challenges, including staffing. AMR is committed to working with all local facilities as a team to combat the challenges caused by short staffing,” said Houghton.
In the report, the County asked that AMR include their report on all air medical flights that take place each month. Houghton said patients, who require critical care at a higher-level facility, are transported from the field to the closest and most appropriate facility.
“The number of patients transported by air ambulance is not an indicator of delay times at Merit Health Natchez. AMR only requests air ambulance transport when the patient’s condition requires it,” said Houghton.
According to AMR, 121 calls were impacted by delays in July 2023. The calls included 911 calls, as well as private calls. Houghton said only a fraction of the delayed calls were emergent 911 calls.
“AMR Natchez is confident we can continue to improve on our performance measures and assured the Board of our abilities to do so. Staffing shortages, increased misuse of the 911 system and increased demand for mental health and social services programs are placing significant strains on the U.S. healthcare system, leading to bed placement delays, overcrowding of hospital EDs and misuse of emergency resources for patients with non-life-threatening conditions. We are committed to working with everyone to identify the necessary solutions to address these strains so we can continue providing the highest level of care to our patients as emergency situations arise,” said Houghton.