“My fear is that officials aren’t going to recognize this is a problem, until it’s a big problem,” CEO of Western Alliance EMS, Tom Carman said.
A severe lack of federal and state funding has some local EMS organizations just barely clinging to life.
“The whole spectrum of recruitment and retention of personnel and reimbursement from the insurance companies has really had an impact on the system so we’re all kind of circling the wagons to see what we can do to make sure this is a sustainable system for the communities,” Executive Director of Greater Valley EMS, Derrick Hall said.
Western Alliance EMS in Bradford County announcing earlier this week that after 50 years the company is on the verge of bankruptcy. The organization is so desperate, that it’s asking for community donations.
“We’ve been historically a part of this community for years and we want to remain as such. We want to be that “mom and pop” that takes care of our friends and neighbors but we can only do that with community help and community involvement,” Carman said.
If the company is unable to meet payroll obligations by the end of February, nearly 100 employees will be without jobs.
“We are certainly at risk of not being able to provide a service and ultimately that can lead to a lot of different risks but undoubtedly it would lead to one big network providing ambulance coverage to the citizens and I think that’s very risky and I think that’s very dangerous to the citizens,” Carman said.
The news of Western Alliance’s potential last breath comes after Guthrie Health Care’s expansion of it’s own ambulance service to help with hospital to hospital transfers.
Guthrie says the additional ambulance is used when local ambulance companies are experiencing high volumes and that the goal of the enhanced service is to decrease wait times for sick patients and increase timely access to medical care.
Local EMS companies that currently assist Guthrie in non emergency transports say without that extra boost in business, they could face loosing more than $250,000 in revenue over a 10 month period.
“Based on the amount of volume that we do with them if the system changes and that healthcare provision model changes then we could potential he see those kind of changes again that’s also reflective of everything going on in the system also,” Hall said.
That type of loss for an already struggling business could result in Greater Valley having to close up shop as well.
“What we’ve seen in our county and also regionally is that when those smaller services close, it’s the larger agencies that help pick up that open space, so sometimes there’s a longer response time because of that and that’s what we’re trying to make sure is that everything is sustainable for the long run so that we make sure we provide that,” Hall said.
So, local EMS companies hoping Guthrie will throw them a lifeline, are meeting with hospital officials to determine how to create and maintain a better working relationship to ensure both entities can go on providing the best patient care for years to come.
“If the hospital floors are backed up, it backs up the emergency room, which backs up the patients that were bringing in by ambulance. So it’s really to the entire health care system’s advantage to network together to see how we can facilitate that transportation into the system, within the system, and out of the system. That’s really where we’re at now is trying to bring everybody to the table. EMS agencies have been meeting with Guthrie leadership to figure out what the best model is for transportation and for sustainability going forward,” Hall said.