GLOVERSVILLE N.Y. (WRGB) - The Ambulance Service of Fulton County shut down on Friday night.
The Ambulance Service of Fulton County is literally boarded up. Its fleet of emergency vehicles idle. Its employees done with what turned out to be their final shift.
“The business model is not sustainable,” said Alan Mendelsohn, the service's vice president.
Mendelsohn says the money problem centers on Medicaid calls, which make up a large amount of their work. Mendelsohn says the money they get from it just isn’t enough.
“We figure it cost us $550 every time one of our ambulances leaves the building. And when you’re only being reimbursed $220 on a large percentage of our calls, and then many other calls we don’t get anything,” he said.
“That Medicaid rate doesn’t even cover the cost of operating that ambulance for that particular EMS call, “ said EMS labor rep Dan Schuddig. “It doesn’t even cover the wages, you’re always running in a deficit.”
Mendelsohn says the low payout for these calls, coupled with no financial support from towns or the state, just couldn’t be sustained.
“You’ll see on channel 6 the fire department fighting a fire. There's always an ambulance there - they’re standing by. They’re not getting paid,” he said.
In New York state, police and fire departments are considered essential services, but EMS isn’t.
“It’s crazy, it’s absolutely insane if you think about it,” Schuddig said. “Garbage pickup is an essential service.”
How will this impact response times when residents in this rural area need urgent help?
“I don’t even know if there’s enough ambulances for these other companies to cover this,” Schuddig said.
“It will be a life or death issue and unfortunately people will significantly suffer,” Mendelsohn said.
The service responded to more than 8,400 hundred calls in 2017.