Gaines approves ambulance contract with Monroe

Photos by Tom Rivers: John Caufield, chief operating officer for Monroe Ambulance, told the Gaines Town Board that Monroe would keep two ambulances in Orleans County as part of an agreement with towns in eastern and central Orleans.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 13 December 2022 at 8:57 am

GAINES – The Town Board voted 4-1 on Monday evening to accept a proposal from Monroe Ambulance to provide ambulance coverage in the town for most of 2023.

Gaines accepted the $24,600 contract from Monroe, making Gaines the fifth town in central or eastern Orleans to approve an agreement with Monroe. Carlton is scheduled to vote on the contract at 7 p.m. today.

One of the Gaines Town Board members, Kenny Rush, cast the lone vote in support of Mercy Flight EMS, which proposed serving Gaines in an $18,000 contract.

Mercy Flight took over COVA last month and has hired nearly all of COVA’s 40-plus employees. Mercy Flight said it provide ambulances services from the COVA base in Albion until Monroe is ready.

Monroe officials said it will take about 90 days to ramp up services, putting its start for central Orleans likely into mid or late March.

John Caufield, chief operating officer for Monroe Ambulance, said the company would like to hire the COVA employees for the ambulance service in Orleans.

“We got room,”  Caufield said. “No one is going to lose their job over this.”

Caufield provided an overview of the contract to the Gaines Town Board, saying Monroe would station an ambulance in both Albion and Holley. There are about 3,300 calls in eastern and central Orleans annually, with about 40 percent in Albion.

Caufield said the data from the county dispatch and COVA’s reports don’t break out the calls into priority 1, 2 or 3, and also don’t have a breakdown on how they were billed – whether by Medicaid, Medicare or private insurance. Medicaid and Medicare pay at a lower reimbursement rate than private insurance.

Priority 1 is higher service calls and need a paramedic, while priority 3 is the lowest need for service and can be met with EMTs. That matters because Monroe will need to determine how to staff the ambulances. The company usually has 20 to 21 ambulances in service in the Rochester region, with 6 of those staffed by higher-level advanced life support.

“The goal is to provide timely response with the appropriate levels of care,” Caufield said.

The contract with the Orleans towns calls for an ALS ambulance and a basic life support unit.

Caufield said Monroe tracks data and will be intensely reviewing the calls, including response time, to provide service in eastern and central Orleans.

The contract with Monroe is for a year, and the towns will be meeting with Monroe officials, likely in August and September to go over the data.

Monroe’s contract says it will respond 90 percent of the time within 15 minutes for priority 1 calls, 20 minutes for priority 2, and 25 minutes for priority 3.

“I consider this a no-risk deal,” Caufield told the Gaines town officials. “If we don’t measure up, we don’t deserve the contract.”

The Mercy Flight proposal for $18,000 called for at least one ALS unit available in Gaines 24-7, with a basic life support ambulance to be shared with Hamlin 12 hours a day, seven days a week.

Monroe offered the ability to draw from another ambulance in Orleans County, and could back fill from other units in Monroe County when there are multiple calls.

Residents had questions about the agreement, including Richard DeCarlo Jr., co-owner of Heritage Estates. But Tyler Allport, the Gaines town supervisor, cut off the comments and called for a vote at 7:42 p.m., about 40 minutes into the meeting which included other town business.

The meeting was adjourned at 7:43 p.m. after Allport, Mary Neilans, Ron Mannella and Jim Kirby voted for the Monroe agreement, with Rush casting the lone vote against it.

Doug Heath, the Gaines town attorney, stands up and tells people attending the Gaines Town Board meeting on Monday that no more comments will be taken from the public about a proposed ambulance contract. Town Supervisor Tyler Allport called for a vote, even though residents wanted to ask questions about the proposal. Heath said the town supervisor was within his right to limit comments from the public and call for a vote. The issue has been debated in several recent board meetings.