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ONEIDA (WATE) - As the Scott County Hospital moves closer to the nine months closed mark, the ambulance service continues to push forward.
But the longer runs mean more wear and tear on equipment and the budget.
Scott County's only hospital closed last May, and without a finalized deal to reopen the facility, ambulance crews are working extra hours and driving extra miles to transport patients to LaFollette, Jamestown or even Knoxville.
"We initially started out with a lot of overtime, because maybe we were overcompensating at that point. But we've kind of got it down. It's pretty well under control now," said Jim Reed, Scott County EMS director.
Four new employees have been hired since the hospital closed.
"Our personnel have been great through this process, but they're working 60-70 hours a week, and that's difficult for anyone to continue at that pace," said Brian Strunk, Scott county finance director.
Each of the ambulances is averaging 300 miles on the road each day.
That's twice as many as when the hospital was open.
"It's just like anyone else's vehicle. The wear and tear is starting to show up on them," Reed said.
The ambulance service has to pass inspections and meet regulations, so everything is up to code, but regular maintenance has to be performed more frequently now than it did when the hospital was open.
And that cuts into profits.
"We're still profitable, not to the point we were," said Reed. "We're still able to support ourselves. It would be much better if we had a hospital. It definitely decreases what we can do, but as of yet, to this point, we are able to support ourselves."
Profits from the ambulance service go back into the county's general fund.
Since the hospital won't reopen with all the services it once offered, it will take time before the ambulance service can operate as it used to without having to make such frequent runs to nearby hospitals.