I-TEAM investigates problem of Cleveland ambulance delays

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CLEVELAND (WJW) — The FOX 8 I-TEAM is investigating what’s being done about Cleveland ambulances being tied up and delayed when responding to 911 calls.

The I-TEAM has found there’s no quick fix for the delays.

We recently exposed a spike in the number of local jail inmates getting rushed to the hospital. Now we’re finding out why, and we’re asking when will it stop?

Cleveland ambulances are taking a soaring number of sick or hurt inmates from the Cuyahoga County Jail to the hospital.

This also comes as paramedics already often struggle to keep up with calls from citizens on the streets.

We went to the Jail Medical Director. Dr. Julia Bruner who told us that MetroHealth Medical Center has beefed up staffing in the jail clinic. She says doctors and nurses are finding an incredible number of inmates with diseases and other conditions needing treatment at the hospital.

“I think we started recognizing the level of illness. That increases the level of risk for the people who are here and who may not have been receiving advanced care when they were at home. Who may not have been taking their medicine,” Dr. Bruner said.

You might be wondering how many of the inmates really need to go to the ER? How many are faking? How many have conditions that are not all that serious?

The jail medical director says she’s been reviewing every call to the jail and determined that 90% of the inmates needed to go to the hospital.

So where does that leave you? Calls to Cleveland EMS often get backed up with desperate patients stuck waiting for an ambulance.

Jail medical staff hopes to treat more inmates behind bars before they have to be sent out.

“We’re trying to actively engage with patients in getting them seen sooner—before they become so severe that they require emergency room evaluation,” Dr. Bruner said.

Overall, the county wants to cut down on inmates tying up ambulances on your streets, but for now, civilians may need to get used to what’s happening.

The county revamped medical care in the jail following a series of inmate deaths and reports of deplorable conditions behind bars there.

All of this has Cleveland EMS pressed more than ever to help save more lives in the jail and on the streets.

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