Pennsylvannia counties are facing the same EMS reckoning as Allegany County NY
GROVE CITY – The emergency medical services (EMS) crisis is sweeping the Commonwealth. Reps. Tim Bonner (R-Mercer/Butler) and Parke Wentling (R-Crawford/Erie/Lawrence/Mercer) brought emergency responders and health care professionals together to testify before the House Majority Policy Committee on the issues they face.
“In order to address the needs of our citizens, we must fix the EMS and ambulance crisis,” said Bonner. “EMS personnel are overworked and the ambulance companies are underfunded. This hearing is part of the process to find solutions to problems with the delivery of medical care to those facing a medical emergency.”
The committee received testimony concerning funding problems, staffing shortages, delayed response times, quality of care issues and the future path of the ambulance service in Pennsylvania.
“The key to having a sustainable EMS system will be to collaborate with municipal, county and state leaders in developing financial assistance in the short term,” said Douglas Dick, EMS chief, Superior Ambulance Service. “We then need to work on financial models between EMS, communities and all health care payers that will remain sustainable into the future.”
“The issue of EMS response in Mercer County has been present throughout my entire 18 years as the director of Public Safety,” said Frank Jannetti, director of public safety, Mercer County. “When I first took over as the director in 2004, Mercer County had very few instances where ambulances were not readily available to handle calls. In the very rare cases where we would run out of resources before, we could contact one of our contiguous counties and they would be able to provide us resources to stand by or respond to our county. Now those counties are experiencing the same or worse shortages than we have and they are often requesting support from us.”
Held at the Grove City Municipal Building, the policy hearing’s testifiers in addition to Dick and Jannetti included:
- John Libonati, county coroner, Mercer County.
- John Chlpka, council president, Jackson Center Borough.
- David Tupponce, president, Allegheny Health Network (AHN) Grove City.
- Aaron Rhone, bureau director, Pennsylvania Department of Health Bureau of EMS.
“It is critical that we help our first responders overcome obstacles they face,” said Wentling. “These men and women work tirelessly to ensure our communities receive all vital services, and I thank them for their dedication.”
“Our emergency medical services system is vital to ensuring access to health care in the Commonwealth, especially in rural areas where people may be further away from hospital emergency rooms and other medical facilities,” said Rep. Martin Causer (R-Cameron/McKean/Potter), chairman of the committee. “We have enacted policies to increase Medicaid reimbursement rates, improve access to training and encourage people to become and remain EMTs, but there is more work to be done.”
The full hearing is available to view at www.PAGOPPolicy.com.