To the editor:
The recent request by Southern Berkshire Ambulance which serves Great Barrington and the surrounding towns, for a subsidy to support its budget amid declining insurance reimbursements is emblematic of just one aspect of our healthcare system.
Local EMS agencies are generally nonprofit, staffed by full- and part-time paramedics and EMTs and in most cases have both paid and volunteer personnel. Their commitment to this service is commendable, providing 24/7 emergency care to those in need.
Most if not all EMS are struggling financially, with break even budgets at best and are generally supported by local fund drives. The state and federal government do not reimburse for the cost of care and further declines in reimbursement will continue.
Local towns and communities financially support police and fire departments, schools and often give tax breaks to local businesses. Maybe its time to talk about subsidies for local EMS.
As a practicing emergency physician and previous EMS medical director envisioning the lack of EMS in a community and the subsequent impact on medical care, such as no emergency care at the scene of an accident or medical emergency, or no ambulance transport to and from our local hospital(s) is unthinkable. After all no one thought North Adams Regional Hospital would ever close.
The author is an emergency physician board-certified in emergency medicine and sports medicine.