“Nowadays, with COVID, pretty much everything is an ALS call.”
That was the message from John Wiltsie, who serves as coordinator for Town of Lyons Ambulance. He recently spoke with the Finger Lakes Times about changes to the county’s response mechanisms for medical emergencies.
“With COVID, the price of drugs and supplies has gone up. It’s really high, and it’s tough to get supplies. It’s hard to keep an operation going with that cost,” Wiltsie added. On January 1, their board of directors opted to drop ALS, opting to only provide basic life support, or BLS. Wiltsie believes it will save the taxpayer-based, non-profit ambulance corps hundreds of thousands of dollars over time.
Their decision came at the same time as Newark-Arcadia Volunteer Ambulance’s decision to do the same. Medicaid and Medicare are huge problems. Specifically, reimbursement to those calls. If the ambulance agency bills, say, $900, as was noted by NAVA president Mike Catalano, they are consider themselves lucky if $300 is reimbursed by the state. It makes operation next to impossible.
Jim Lee, Wayne ALS director says it’s a business decision for these smaller companies. “What the (local) EMS system lacks is people and money, equipment and medicine,” he added.
Wayne County Board of Supervisors Chairman Ken Miller told FingerLakes1.com last month that the transition to ‘fly cars’ has gone well. These vehicles get ALS personnel to the scene, and can do everything needed there, but not transport the individuals in an ambulance-style vehicle.
“Our agency exists to assist transport agencies in the county, basically whenever they need a paramedic at the scene. We are available any time of the day and week,” Lee added. “There were about 9,000 EMS calls in the county last year, and we went on about 4,600 of those calls.”
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