Rally planned Friday in support of COVA

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 30 August 2022 at 4:12 pm

Ambulance provider says $150K needed or it faces closure Jan. 1

Photo by Tom Rivers: COVA is based out of 239 South Main St., Albion. COVA responded to 2,214 calls in 2021.

ALBION – A rally is planned on Friday from 4 to 6 p.m. in Albion to show support for COVA, a local ambulance provider based in Albion.

The non-profit organization faces closure by Jan. 1, said Jennifer Stilwell, COVA’s president.

The organization has maxed out its lines of credit, after not needing to borrow until three years ago. COVA started in 1979.

Stilwell wrote a letter to the editor on Orleans Hub on Aug. 14, detailing the fiscal challenges faced by COVA. The organization has tried for four years to secure local support through the taxes in Barre, Albion, Gaines and Carlton, but that request hasn’t been taken up by the towns. Stilwell said $50 on each property owners’ tax bills in those towns annually would keep the organization viable.

Since her letter, COVA has met with county legislators and Stilwell said she is hopeful there can at least be a short-term solution to keep COVA operating.

She said COVA is seeking $150,000 from the county to stay afloat in the short-term while it tries to find a longer-term answer.

For the rally on Friday, people are encouraged to be at the COVA base at 239 South Main St. by 3:45 p.m. and to bring their own signs showing support for the ambulance provider. There will be T-shirts available for $15 that show support for COVA.

“Together as a community we can make a difference!” a Facebook event post states. “This is truly a life and death matter! Come out and show support for COVA! Don’t wait until it’s too late ..it could be your family that needs the help!”

Stilwell said COVA isn’t organizing the rally. It is done by others in the community.

She said the organization has suffered from very low insurance payments that often are paid at 20 percent of what is billed, people who keep the insurance checks and don’t turn them in, and rising costs for equipment, gas, wages, medical supplies and medications.