The University of Virginia Health System notified Greene County on April 14 that it’s severing the contract to provide emergency response services in the county effective Oct. 14.
On Monday, Greene County Administrator Mark Taylor said he received a letter giving the required 180 days’ notice that Medic 5 would no longer staff the ambulances full time. Medic 5 was running two shifts during the day and two at night every day of the week. Medic 5 has been supplying paid staff for the ambulances in Greene County since 2011, originally to fill in when volunteers were unable. However, due to decreased numbers of volunteers for the Greene Rescue Squad, Medic 5 began providing full-time paid service in the past two years.
“We are looking at, as rapidly as possible, a plan for EMS going forward and we’re concerned about the costs,” Taylor said. “It’s a remarkable thing, mid-pandemic—arguably when we need them most, to have an emergency service provider … send a letter just saying ‘we’re done’.”
The letter mailed April 14 gave no reason for the separation. No one from the University of Virginia Health System returned calls by press time Tuesday.
Board of Supervisors Chairman Bill Martin, Stanardsville, said the timing of the announcement is as bad as it could get but he holds out hope for Greene County.
“It’s inexplicable in some ways,” Martin said. “I suspect there are things going on behind the scenes over there that we don’t even understand yet as to why they make decisions like this. I think the only way we can look at it is, from a county perspective, this is an opportunity to make things better, and to have this a little bit more homegrown than it is now. I suspect we’re going to sort it out and then we’re going to end up with something better than we have now.”
The county put forth a request for proposals for EMS last winter, but did not get much response.
“While I was initially shocked by the information, I have already come to embrace this as positive news for Greene County,” said Melissa Meador, emergency services manager. “Having our own EMS department will allow Greene County to take a more proactive approach to EMS management, operations and services.”
In the recent past, the county paid more than
$1 million per year for the services from Medic 5, in addition to the costs of fleet and materials.
“We are at a point with our budget where we’re trying to arrange the finances necessary to make sure of service continuity and to do it without a phenomenal burden of a mid-year revenue adjustment,” Taylor said. “It’s a challenging puzzle but we’ll have a recommendation for the board by next Tuesday.”