Cambria healthcare trustees approved expedited acceptance of a $5,900 bid from GeoSolutions on Wednesday to conduct a slope analysis and other soil work on a mudslide area behind the ambulance station that occurred during recent rains.
The Cambria Community Healthcare District board voted unanimously to accept the GeoSolutions bid without waiting for a second, competitive bid, citing the emergency nature of the situation under which ambulances have been moved away from the station.
A debris wall behind the station failed under pressure from a mudslide during heavy rains that hit Cambria on Jan. 8 and 9, trapping an ambulance between the hillside and the building.
“The ambulance was trapped for a period of time,” board President Bob Putney said. “There was debris and material up against the ambulance, so it could not move.”
Trustee Jerry Wood pointed out that the collapsed wooden wall wasn’t a full-fledged retaining wall but merely a debris wall, and wasn’t built to handle the kind of mudslide that occurred. District Administrator Bob Sayers told the board that a retaining wall would probably be needed to ensure the stability of the hill, adding that “the retaining wall will be covered by our insurance.”
Sayers said GeoSolutions of San Luis Obispo would do slope analysis, field exploration with a backhoe and a soil profile, preparing soil samples to be tested and producing a report for the board. Part of the problem, Sayers said, involved six or seven dead trees on the hillside, one of which rolled down the hillside. He said the district had received permission from the property owner where the trees are located to remove them.
Sayers told the board that an insurance adjustor had visited the site Tuesday and believes the district will be covered for property damage. He also said he believes insurance will cover the cost of relocating district ambulances to a private home on Lancaster Street in the Park Hill neighborhood until the situation can be resolved.
Monterey County reimbursement
Also Wednesday, Sayers briefed the board on an agreement with Monterey County under which the district is providing ambulance service to some areas — without being reimbursed.
Under the agreement, Sayers said, American Medical Response is refusing to pay for some calls staffed by CCHD ambulances.
Some 911 calls, he said, go directly to CCHD and “bypass Monterey County and the dispatcher, AMR,” Sayers said. “We respond, and they refuse to pay because they didn’t approve the dispatch. That’s where we run into problems.”
Sayers said the district needs a new agreement “that basically pays us, no matter who approves the dispatch.”
We respond, and they refuse to pay because they didn’t approve the dispatch. That’s where we run into problems.
Bob Sayers, CCHD administrator, on difficulties obtaining reimbursement from Monterey County for ambulance services provided
Trustee Shirley Bianchi suggested — and the rest of the board approved — sending a letter to a Monterey County supervisor, stating that if the district isn’t paid, “we will cease to respond.”
With southern Monterey County inaccessible from the north due to mudslides that have closed Highway 1, Putney said, the district is in a good position to demand payment.
“Maybe now’s a good time to leverage them, since they can’t respond to their own county,” Putney said. “They can’t get over the debris to get to their own area.”
In other business, the board approved a memorandum of understanding with the Cambria Community Services District to apply jointly for a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Sayers explained that applications for regional grants have a better chance of being approved than applications from individual agencies. If the grant is approved, he said, CCHD would manage it and each agency would be responsible for 5 percent of its own costs.
The grant would enable the district to purchase three heart monitors at a total cost of $103,000, with the district’s portion being $5,178 — all of which would be funded by Project Heartbeat, he said. It would also allow the district to purchase three power-lift gurneys for $36,000 (district cost $1,800) and internet hotspots for its ambulances for $6,500 (district cost $320).
The vote to approve the MOU with CCSD was 5-0.
Trustee Barbara Bronson Gray told the board that Tenet Health is “now actively negotiating with the owner of what was once Heritage Oaks Bank” to create a health clinic in that building.
She said it would be a “combined medical practice and walk-in care” and would include extended hours and extended diagnostics.
Gray said Tenet is not asking the district for any financial help with the project. She added that Dignity Health remains interested in Cambria as a potential location as well.