EDITORIAL: Needless ambulance rides at Anschutz campus warrant state and local scrutiny

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The health care system in Colorado, just like those across the nation, is rife with waste, inconsistency, absurdity and greed.

Aurora gets an ‘A’ for absurdity in the case of expensive ambulance runs at Anschutz medical campus.

A recent Sentinel Colorado story by reporter Quincy Snowdon revealed that Aurora firefighters are called to the Anschutz campus hundreds of times a year to wastefully drive people, clearly in a non-emergency condition, a few hundred feet to nearby hospital admitting entrance, creating a massive, needless expense that taxpayers and consumers ultimately pay for.

Since 2015, Aurora firefighters — many of whom are also trained paramedics — have responded to the medical campus doctor offices, clinics and other facilities more than 1,400 times, according to The Sentinel story.

It’s almost a call a day. The calls often come from medical officials and result in a patient, often not facing an emergency situation, being taken for an exorbitantly expensive ambulance ride for a few hundred feet to UCHealth’s Anschutz Inpatient Pavilion at 12605 E. 16th Ave.

More than half of all calls through June to the campus have been to the Day Resource Center, which provides a variety of homeless services in a building that used to serve as a gym for the Aurora Police Department, according to the story.

“We take people downstairs, out to the ambulance, and drive them to the other side of the building — literally,” Aurora firefighter Vance Maune told The Sentinel. “And then that patient incurs a huge expense from that.”

Ambulance rides start at about $1,500. Aurora fire officials say they’re committed to roll them and teams of firefighters out when nurses or aides call 911 to get a patient transported from one part of the campus to another.

Deputy City Manager Jason Batchelor said, “There are some concerns there about an appropriate allocation of resources.”

There needs to be action. While campus officials have worked to create a new system that would allow far less expensive and critical systems than Aurora firefighters and pricey private or public ambulances to transport patients, changes have been delayed, according to campus officials.

These are the kind of regular irregularities that drive up the cost of health care out of reach for a growing number of Coloradans.

Gov. Jared Polis has created a new office cheekily dubbed, “Office of Saving People Money on Health Care.”

The office is headed up by Lt. Gov. Dianne Primavera. This looks to be a perfect case to scrutinize and find a way to expedite a solution and ensure similar waste isn’t occurring elsewhere in Colorado.

It’s critical that Polis, state lawmakers and health care industry officials look at inherent and massive structural flaws in the health care system in an effort to finally bring some kind of universal health care to Colorado. But all principles in the issue must search and solve relativity problems, like needless ambulance rides, that collectively do as much harm to health care consumers as do big philosophical defects.