Rural/Metro to stop most Indiana EMS service, including Greenwood

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Arizona-based Rural/Metro, a company which operates ambulance services in over 30 Indiana communities, will stop providing service to most of its Indiana locations.

The company is citing low transport volumes and low Medicaid reimbursement rates among other factors.

Greenwood is among the cities that will be affected by Rural/Metro's departure. The city has a contract with the company to run three of its ambulances out of three different fire stations."They will be exercising their 90-day contract end and the last day of service for the City of Greenwood will be November 18," said Greenwood Fire Chief James Sipes.

Tom Michaelis spent Tuesday afternoon fixing his son's lawnmower. When he heard Rural/Metro is in the middle of shutting down in some cities, he thought Greenwood was in the clear.

"I didn't realize it was affecting Johnson County and Greenwood. I thought it was just up in Marion County, the city, so I hope they can do something about it," Michaelis said.

In 2013, Rural/Metro did about 3,700 transports in Greenwood. But a recent bankruptcy is forcing cutbacks in smaller cities.

In Greenwood, the move impacts close to 30 part- and full-time employees.

Photo: Greenwood Fire Chief James Sipes discusses Rural/Metro's plans to discontinue services in the city Nov. 18.

Still, Sipes promises when the ambulance service changes hands, residents like Michaelis won't even noticed the difference.

"I have never had to use it before, but I am at the age now, I thought that was always going to be there for me," Michaelis said.

Although Rural/Metro will be gone from Greenwood by mid-November, the fire chief hopes to have a new company in place far ahead of time.

Changing ambulance companies shouldn't cost taxpayers or the county any money, since they typically pay transport fees by the trip.

The small city of Martinsville is another Indiana location taking a big hit when it comes to emergency and non-emergency ambulance service due to Rural/Metro's departure. After concerned employees working for the ambulance company heard rumors about the shutdown, they called City Hall.That is when Mayor Phil Deckard made some calls of his own.

"The president of the company called me back. In fact, he was on a road trip, going to some other communities. I shared with him what I had heard. He did confirm that it is true," Deckard said.

The mayor learned that his city's contract to have two ambulances available around the clock will expire in about 120 days. He says Rural/Metro is not financially sound enough to continue doing business in many of Indiana's smaller cities.

Deckard says the move will mean 20-30 people will lose their jobs in Martinsville.

That is just the beginning of the city's problems, because the folks at IU Health Morgan Hospital will depend on ambulance service more now than ever.

"This could be a great problem with our city and coupled with that, our hospital is under some present renovations, doing away with critical care, so everything is ambulatory from here to our sister communities," Deckard said. "So it could be a problem."

It is a problem Deckard and other city leaders have already started working on so they are not left without ambulance service altogether.

Rural/Metro operates in 21 states and nearly 700 communities across the country. See the company's bankruptcy filing in Indiana here.

Rural/Metro issued this statement:

Following a year-long effort to substantially restructure and improve its municipal contracts throughout Indiana, Rural/Metro has decided to discontinue operations in a number of Indiana counties. Rural/Metro's operating footprint in Indiana is a series of smaller, nonadjacent rural areas that have become increasingly difficult to serve due to very low transport volumes. These factors, combined with a changing American healthcare environment, larger amounts of unpaid indigent care, and low Medicaid reimbursement rates within Indiana have created a difficult business environment which led to this decision. These operations will be ended in accordance with the terms of their respective contracts.

Transitioning out of these select Indiana markets, which represent a non-material total of Rural/Metro's overall transport volume, allows Rural/Metro to continue focusing on areas where it can efficiently provide optimal service and patient care. Rural/Metro is committed to working with these affected counties and our EMS partners to assist in transitioning service so that ongoing service needs are met in a seamless manner.

Although Rural/Metro will be strategically withdrawing from a number of its central Indiana locations, it will continue to serve higher volume markets in Indiana with a sufficient scale for the company to benefit from operating efficiencies.

Rural/Metro is a leading provider of emergency and non-emergency medical transportation, fire protection, and safety-related services in communities throughout the United States. Established in 1948, Rural Metro has cultivated 66 years of unparalleled system transparency, superior customer service, and robust continuous improvement processes.

Our core mission is to provide quality community health services that encompass long-term stability, innovation, and exceptional care.

The company operates in the following Indiana communities.

Delaware County
Hancock County
Hendricks County
Johnson County
Madison County
Marion County
Morgan County
Wayne County
Cass County
Clark County
Lawrence County
Jennings County
North Vernon

At this point, it's not known which services will be affected.