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Failure of EMS levy leaves fate of Lower Valley ambulance service in jeopardy

Prosser Memorial Hospital is currently mulling its ambulance service options now that a levy supporting an ambulance district in Yakima County has failed.

Former hospital CEO Jim Tavery warned citizens prior to the Nov. 4 election that failure of Proposition 1 could as much as double ambulance response times for citizens in Grandview and Mabton because it would force the closure of the Grandview ambulance station.

According to the hospital's community relations director, Jason Jones, no decision has been made thus far as to how to respond to the levy failure.

"The (hospital) board and interim CEO (Julie Peterson) are adamant about not (having) a knee jerk reaction," Jones said.

"We're looking at what we can do despite the economic impact of not having the proposition pass."

He said that reducing expenses and still providing the service is the board and CEO's goal.

Jones said the hospital is mulling its options, which include making shift changes and the option of closing the ambulance station in Grandview. A spring levy is "also on the table," said Jones, but he added that discussion has to take place with Yakima County commissioners.

Grandview Fire Chief Pat Mason summed up the levy failure in one word: "Disappointment."

Said Mason, "I still re-iterate that when it comes to what they're trying to achieve here is what the taxpayer is getting for their dollars is the best deal out there, if they're willing to maintain the level of service they have."

He added, "There's no other way to provide (ambulance service) at a more cost effective basis."

Mabton Fire Chief Luke Cussins said he had heard the possibility of a spring levy. If that's the case, it's his hope that voters are perhaps more informed about the impact of another failed levy.

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