Hinchey bill would create task force to study the challenges facing ambulance services
Melanie Lekocevic is reporting for Columbia-Greene Media a bill introduced by state Sen. Michelle Hinchey to study the financial challenges facing rural emergency medical service providers was was approved unanimously June 2, in both the state Senate and Assembly. The measure is now on its way to the governor’s desk for his signature. The bill would establish a 12-member task force to come up with solutions to the challenges facing ambulance services. Rural EMS providers have faced substantial financial hardships for years, as well as a shortage of volunteers, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only intensified the problem, Hinchey said. “I represent communities that don’t have a local hospital — communities where residents have to travel more than an hour away to reach the nearest trauma center,” she said. Greene County Memorial Hospital, formerly located in Catskill, closed its doors in 1992. The nearest hospital is now Columbia Memorial Health in Hudson. Greene Emergency Medical Services President Mark Evans said, “First and foremost is obtaining adequate funding. Municipal agencies are taxpayer-funded but nonprofits or private may or may not be... Rural EMS has longer transport times, longer distances to travel, costing more in fuel and wear and tear,” he said. The challenges go beyond the financial, Evans added. “Finding personnel from a small work pool is very difficult and if none exist in the rural area then you have to entice people to travel to your area...,” he said. Read more at HudsonValley360 [dot] com.