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Denver Health questioned by city council over response times, bypassing other hospitals

Answers sought after multiple Denver7 reports
denver health paramedic.jpg
Posted at 6:01 PM, Mar 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-02 21:25:37-05

DENVER — Denver city leaders are now seeking answers about response times and decisions to bypass other qualified hospitals by Denver Health’s paramedics division.

The questions from Denver City Council come after more than eight months of reporting by Denver7 Investigates. On Tuesday, issues exposed by Denver7 were addressed during a meeting of the city’s public safety committee.

During the hearing, which lasted more than 90 minutes, members of the committee questioned Denver Health’s medical director, Dr. Kevin McVaney, and chief paramedic, Gary Bryskiewicz, on response time concerns raised by Denver firefighters.

One firefighter, who spoke to Denver7 anonymously, said response times by Denver Health paramedics often exceeded the 8-minute 59-second national standard.

Denver7 also reported on multiple emails filed by Denver firefighters questioning several delayed response times during the past 18 months.

“The emails are saying what we all know,” the firefighter said. “There has been a long-time problem with how long it takes for an ambulance to arrive on scene.”

Last week, Denver Health confirmed that for the second time in 14 years, the paramedics division failed to meet the national standard for response times in 2021. The standard requires Denver Health paramedics to arrive to a call in 8 minutes 59 seconds for 90% of its calls. In 2021, Denver Health paramedics met that threshold 84.8% of the time.

“We are not perfect,” Bryskiewicz said during the hearing. “We have opportunities to grow.”

Councilwoman Amanda Sandoval said she wasn’t surprised that the wait times were often longer than expected.

“And there seems to be some conflict between the paramedics and the Denver Fire Department, and it’s a shame,” she said.

“If you had not been reporting on this, I am not so sure we would have all these people in the room today, so thank you” Councilman Kevin Flynn said.

Denver7 asked to talk with McVaney and Bryskiewicz after the meeting. Both declined the request and walked away when asked if they planned to make any changes.