A local ambulance company is shutting down today and Johnston County officials are scrambling to make sure there will be enough ambulances to provide non-emergency transports to residents.
Johnston Ambulance Service, known as “JAS”, will cease operations at 7:00pm tonight (Wednesday). The company provides non-emergency transports for patients to and from hospitals, nursing homes, dialysis centers, and doctors offices in 17 counties from Orange County to Brunswick County in central and eastern North Carolina, including Johnston.
The owner, Maynard Price, said the company notified the state and county officials, area nursing homes, and EMS agencies on Tuesday they would be closing immediately. JAS had approximately 400 employees who operate 50 ambulances who provide between 250 and 300 trips daily.
Price said he was forced to close because he is owed millions of dollars and he can’t get paid. Price blamed the Affordable Care Act and Medicare for part of the issue. He said the government has slashed reimbursement rates. Even when they are paid, it takes longer because of all the paperwork and red tape.
Price said it was a problem for everyone in the healthcare industry. He also blamed the state for some of the slow reimbursements. “Nursing homes owe us a lot of money. The state won’t accept paperwork if you make a little mistake. We’re owed millions of dollars we can’t collect.”
Price also apologized to the 400 employees who were losing their jobs.
“I am sorry this has happened. We cannot go any further,” Price said Wednesday. “I’ve to pay these guys and pay insurances and I’m sorry we’re having to do this. I think it will put the eastern part of the state in shock.”
Johnston County EMS officials are working to make sure there is adequate non-emergency medical coverage starting tonight.
Josh Holloman, Assistant Director and EMS Division Chief with Johnston County Emergency Services said in addition to JAS, the county also a contract with North State Medical Transport. Arrangements are being made with North State along with Samaritan Ambulance to provide additional coverage to compensate for the loss of JAS.
JAS was contracted to provide inter-facility transport in Johnston County, Holloman said, but JAS is not involved with emergency transports where you dial 911. He said he was sad to see the agency close.
Holloman said he feels confident the three ambulance companies can handle a good portion of the non-emergency transports, however the County is prepared to use “911 ambulances” to transport patients until the private contractors can fully ramp us service.
Holloman said the closure of JAS will not impact response times for Johnston County EMS ambulances and contract agencies in Four Oaks, Selma and 50-210, when someone dials 911. JAS and the other providers are responsible for non-emergency “scheduled” trips only.
JAS corporate offices are located in Goldsboro but they have 10 other division locations including Smithfield, Clinton, Garner and Wilson. Photos courtesy JAS