Utica, N.Y. - New York - one of the hardest hit states over the course of this pandemic - is pushing emergency medical service providers to the limit.
“It primarily cut our volume down by 30-40%. It's starting to come back up now but May was horrible. May and June were just horrible,” said Vinny Faraone, Kunkel Ambulance Director. “Our volume was down about 35-40% below our normal and that was for a lot of reasons people were afraid, and justifiably so, people didn't understand this disease.”
Thousands of dollars are spent on personal protective equipment alone at Kunkel Ambulance Services. If federal and state officials are unable to come up with further funding, the industry will struggle to remain viable.
“The other thing that's affected us considerably is the cost of the PPE,” said Faraone. “I have, my office looks like a warehouse, I have it stocked with PPE that we were able to get from different places in the country and around the world. So we have enough for our people right now. But I don't know how long this is going to last but presently we have enough for our present situation.”
A combination of insufficient funding from Medicare and a rise in demand for ambulances is what the industry says is the cause of its decline.
“Things like Medicaid increases across the state would help. Medicare increases would help. More PPE from the government would help. Again, the big elephant in the room and what's gonna happen next month? What's going to happen next week? Is our volume going to go down or are we going to be cut 1/3 again? That's the big unknown,” said Faraone.
According to Gramercy New York, initial funding under the provider relief fund totaled $350 million for EMS providers in contrast to $11 billion for rural hospitals.