In response to economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, Shippensburg Area EMS recently consolidated its services under one roof as part of a long-term strategy to reduce overhead and maintain operations, Capt. Heather Franzoni said Tuesday.
The EMS service has closed the space it once rented as a substation from the West End Fire & Rescue Company and transferred that ambulance from 46 Lurgan Ave. to the EMS headquarters building at 711 E. Orange St.
Not only did this move save money in rent and utilities, it stabilized a service that felt the pain this spring of a reduced call volume brought on by mandatory stay-at-home orders and by patients anxious about being transported to a hospital during the pandemic, Franzoni said. Savings from the consolidation will be passed on to those served by the organization.
“Knowing this crisis will affect our community well into 2021, this move will allow us to not increase membership fees or fees for 911 services for 2020 and 2021,” she said. “Additionally, we will not pursue collections throughout the remainder of the year. During these hard times any citizen that is unable to pay their ambulance bill should contact us to discuss options.”
In addition, Shippensburg Area EMS will not increase the fee it charges for having on-site ambulance service, CPR training and educational programs during the economic recovery.
EMS leaders started discussing consolidation back in April and completed the process around June 15, Franzoni said. As part of the planning, they sought guidance from such agencies as the Partnership for Better Health, Wellspan Healthcare, the state Bureau of EMS, the Emergency Health Services Federation and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, she said.
“We knew that the consolidation was essential to balance the needs of health care throughout our service area while maintaining our fiduciary responsibility to the community,” Franzoni said. “The consolidation of services will provide added benefits to our community, our patients, and our dedicated providers.”
During the consolidation process, the EMS service reduced the size of its vehicle fleet. This freed up resources for it to establish a special services ambulance to replace a quick response vehicle and a fire ground rehabilitation vehicle.
The result has been a better utilization of existing staff while providing the same level of service, Franzoni said. “All the overhead that we did have we were able to put right back into the community and not have to raise any prices.”
By concentrating all its services at one location, Shippensburg Area EMS now has complete control over the health screenings of its employees and the decontamination of its apparatus, equipment and work spaces, she said. “This is vital to ensure that we do not pass the virus to citizens we come in contact with or our families.”
Starting July 1, the public can enter the headquarters station to interact with the billing, leadership and training departments of the EMS service.
“We are requiring face masks, social distancing and the use of hand sanitizer prior to entry to our administrative annex,” Franzoni said. “Upon arrival, our staff will assist you with your entry as needed.”
“This is a tough time for our nation and our community,” she said. “The Shippensburg Area EMS wanted to provide our community the reassurance that we are still here, and will continue to serve our community 24/7.”
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