BATAVIA — As the 2021-22 fiscal yr approaches, Mercy Flight’s huge challenge is staffing, manpower and aggressive pay rates, an company official informed the Genesee County Human Services Committee Monday.
Michael Gugliuzza, director of medical operations gave a departmental report on the committee assembly.
“It’s a very tough market right now, between a lot of job openings being not applied for … and we’re competing with other industries outside EMS. We’re seeing great shifts in pay rates and those kinds of things,” he stated. “We’re working very hard to take the whole EMS market and really make it into more of a career-oriented field, as opposed to just a temporary job that somebody gets before they go on to the next step in life. We’re looking to move that forward and kind of champion that.”
Gugliuzza stated if reimbursements from Mercy Flight’s largest payors — Medicare and Medicaid — keep stagnant, stress on the EMS system normally “could reach a breaking point.”
“We’re looking to work with our payors to try to help, where we can, to increase rates. Many of the fee schedules haven’t been adjusted in years,” he stated. “It really becomes detrimental to, not just our agency, but to EMS as a whole, and, I’m sure, all of our agencies … that rely on the insurance industry to supplement their income.”
Gugliuzza stated Mercy Flight hopes legislators and municipal leaders will proceed to help first responders and, in consequence, the protection and welfare of their constituents.
“We see that being a very worthwhile endeavor,” he stated.
Legislature Chairwoman Rochelle Stein stated she was studying the challenges Mercy Flight has in recruiting folks into the company as a profession path.
“What would be, in your mind, a great way to introduce our youth into the EMT career path?” she requested.
“I think the best thing is trying to capture them when they start to do the career days,” Gugliuzza stated, including EMS would have an opportunity to return in and speak, and let youthful of us know concerning the profession path — what’s accessible, what they’ll do, how that may play out for them.”
“We’ve seen, in the past few years, a decline in the people interested in getting into it at the EMT basic level,” he stated. “In past years, that’s been a pretty robust portion of the overall job function.”
Stein requested if Mercy EMS has been invited up to now to take part within the GLOW With Your Hands occasion that was first held in 2019. The summer time occasion was began to provide college students from throughout the area a profession exploration alternative and put them in contact with employers.
“I’ll have to check. I’m not aware if we have or have not been. I can say it we have been, we would make every effort to be part of that,” Gugliuzza stated.
Stein advisable that Gugliuzza attain out to Karyn Winters, director of the Genesee County Business Education Alliance (BEA).
The 2019-20 fiscal yr introduced Mercy Flight with challenges as a result of pandemic, Gugliuzza stated.
“Over the last year we’ve had an increase in costs for PPE and decontamination for our equipment of a little over $115,000,” he stated. Gugliuzza stated there was a lower in income of about $400,000 on account of a drop in demand in floor ambulance transport and misplaced income from EMS standby service at Darien Lake.
“There’s decreasing revenue based on no events going on at Darien Lake and other places …” he stated.
Mercy Flight obtained funds from the CARES Act PPP Loan Program and Division of Homeland Security & Emergency Services (DHSES( Provider Stimulus funds have helped it overcome that misplaced income. Gugliuzza stated the county Office of Emergency Management, OEM Coordinator Tim Yaeger and Deputy Coordinator Bill Schutt have labored nicely with Mercy Flight.
“They’ve been great partners through all of this to help with PPE needs, in just trying to formulate a plan that will allow for the entire community to make sure everyone is protected,” he stated.
Between July 1, 2019 and June 30, 2020, Mercy Flight obtained 143 requests for helicopter ambulance service, together with standby requests in Genesee County, resulting in 76 helicopter transports. Fifty-six of these requests had been canceled as a result of they weren’t wanted and 11 had been canceled on account of poor climate.
“We have increased our capabilities in poor weather,”: he stated, noting enhancements to instrument flight guidelines (IFR) permit it to fly safely in tougher climate.
Overall, Mercy Flight’s floor ambulance service’s Batavia base of operations obtained 9.649 requests for service. As a consequence, there have been 7,191 circumstances of affected person contact via transports, raise assists and remedy with out transport — a drop of 5.7 p.c on account of COVID.
Training periods of varied varieties — floor crew security coaching, profession days, DWI simulation drills — for instance, had been placed on maintain on account of COVID, he stated.
“We’ve started to get back to doing that. Our outreach to the community, our work with our partners, is starting to ramp back up,” he stated.
Vaccination-wise, the Mercy Flight workers members who requested to be vaccinated have all been, Gugliuzza stated. He stated Mercy Flight began vaccinating round Christmas.
“The vast majority of folks who expressed interest were done and had their second shots by roughly by the end of January. There were some folks who wanted to be included after the fact and they have been,” he stated.
Mercy Flight’s 40th anniversary is that this yr, Gugliuzza informed county leaders, and the company is gearing up for its BASH fundraiser in September.
“Hopefully that can take place this year and work out,” he stated. “We did have to cancel last year, based on COVID activities and things of that nature,” he stated.
The committee Monday supported a proposed contract with Mercy Flight to offer air medical transport service in Genesee County via Dec. 31. If the proposed contract is accepted by the Legislature, the county will pay Mercy Flight $12,825, the identical quantity it paid the company the earlier 4 years.