During their July 12 meeting, the East Allen Township Board of Supervisors voted to change the township’s emergency medical services provider from the East Allen Township Volunteer Ambulance Corps to Northampton Regional Emergency Medical Services. All supervisors voted in favor of the decision, except Supervisor Mark Schwartz, who abstained, ending a 44-year partnership.
The decision comes after several months of discussions and meetings between Supervisors and the EATVAC Board of Directors. The Board of Directors approached the township in January with concerns that the organization would be unable to pay staff. In February, supervisors approved a $50,000 contribution to the organization to help cover payroll and operating costs. An additional contribution of $37,378.72 was made in April.
Township officials did not give statements following the vote. Instead, an official statement was released via a press release on July 14.
According to the press release, a series of unfortunate events led to this fiscal crisis. Among them: “the lack of sustainable call volumes, extremely low Medicare/Medicaid reimbursements, declining subscriptions renewals, increasing staffing costs due to 24/7 coverage commencing in November 2022, and a lucrative pension plan that led to thousands of dollars of payments to former members.”
The financial situation was “far worse than originally anticipated,” the township said in its press release.
An investigation found that the ambulance corps was losing $26,000 each month. The township would have to contribute $389,000 to see EATVAC through June 2024, which would equal a 2.2 mill tax increase.
Despite this, “there would be no guarantee that even with a tax increase EATVAC would be on a path to financial solvency,” read the press release.
A committee was put together earlier this year to identify a possible partner who could help the ambulance corps continue to operate. Both Nazareth Regional EMS and Northampton Regional EMS were identified as possible partners. However, EATVAC recommended partnering with Nazareth Regional EMS in June.
A lack of financial transparency from Nazareth Regional EMS concerned supervisors, as discussed during the June 14 and June 22 supervisor meetings.
“The township felt making a decision to change any EMS services with the information provided was inappropriate and immature,” the press release states. As a result, supervisors refused to approve the partnership.
During the July 12 meeting, Borough Manager Brent Green said that Nazareth Regional EMS admitted to wanting a merger, not a partnership and that not everything stated during committee meetings would be possible.
As a result, supervisors voted to approve Northampton Regional EMS as the township’s emergency medical provider.
“Northampton Regional has committed to offer the same quality services we [were] grateful to receive by East Allen Township Volunteer Ambulance Corps and will work with the township on ensuring that there will be no lapse or loss of emergency medical services to East Allen Township,” continued the press release. Northampton Regional EMS will also work to recruit staff from EATVAC.
No official statement has been released from the EATVAC’s Board of Directors.
However, a Facebook message posted to the EATVAC Facebook page says: “Thank you for all the great memories and friendships made over the years. Also thank you to all of our current and past members and career staff who made East Allen EMS a great organization. Please stay tuned as our Board of Directors are meeting to discuss what’s next for East Allen EMS.”
The post was flooded with well wishes, words of encouragement and personal stories of times the EATVAC came to the aid of loved ones.
The township did thank EATVAC for their four decades of dedication via the press release.
“Their passion and quality of their care provided for our residents, businesses and visitors of the township was second to none and will provide a strong foundation for our next provider.”
The next East Allen Township Board of Supervisors meeting will be Thursday, July 27 at 7 p.m.