Carnegie EMS to continue operations despite Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing
Despite filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, Carnegie Emergency Medical Services will continue to provide services to the community.
“If you need to call 911, they will be there for you,” said Pat Catena, Carnegie council president. “During the bankruptcy, there will be no disruption to the EMS services.”
Carnegie EMS on Monday filed a voluntary petition for Chapter 11 reorganization in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the Western District of Pennsylvania. Director John Kandracs did not return phone calls. In a statement released through the borough, Kandracs said the Chapter 11 reorganization was in the best interest of the EMS and the residents and businesses of Carnegie.
“The Chapter 11 process enables Carnegie EMS to continue conducting normal business operations while we restructure our debt, costs and other obligations,” Kandracs said.
The organization’s 990 tax form for 2014 shows total expenses were $7,565 more than total revenues. The nonprofit had assets totaling $31,139 while reporting liabilities that total $220,200.
J.R. Henry, chief of Valley Ambulance Authority in Moon, said EMS organizations face several major problems.
“The health care landscape has changed dramatically,” Henry said.
Years ago, organizations started out with volunteers, which kept costs low.
“There has been a decline in EMS personnel,” said Henry, who noted the high number of training hours required to be a paramedic. He also said the starting wage for a paramedic is $15 an hour. Emergency medical technicians are paid $12 an hour.
“Most of them go back for additional education (and) can become nurses and earn more money,” Henry said.
The Allegheny County EMS Council conducted a survey in October that found, of 34 EMS agencies in the county responding, 75 percent reported a financial loss in the last three years. One-third do not receive funding from their municipality. The average gross collection for billing was just 43 percent.
Henry said Allegheny County once had 132 EMS organizations. Today, it has 44.
Todd Pritchard, director of Medical Rescue Team South Authority in Mt. Lebanon, said all EMS organizations face similar struggles.
“It’s a combination of factors. We struggle with reimbursements,” Pritchard said. “Medicare hasn’t increased rates for ambulance reimbursement, and our costs are going up. Insurance companies send the payment to the patient.”
Pritchard said MRTSA is fortunate to receive support from the communities it serves.
Bankruptcy court documents show Carnegie EMS listed 12 creditors with unsecured claims totaling more than $400,000. The top three are First Government Leasing of Winnetka, Ill., at $211,250; Medical Billing Group of Coraopolis at $77,160; and Carnegie Volunteer Fire Rescue Relief in Carnegie at $59,500.
Jim Spezialetti is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 412-388-5805 or [email protected].