“This is a wonderful opportunity for us, and a great solution for the city of Newburyport. All meetings were overwhelmingly positive and I really cannot say enough about the level of commitment every community official has in making sure this transition is successful,” Cataldo said.
Together with Atlantic Ambulance Service, a division of Cataldo Ambulance Service, the organization provides emergency ambulance coverage for 12 municipalities in Greater Boston and on the North Shore.
Cataldo said Newburyport residents will likely see Atlantic ambulances at least at first, but that could change as time passes. He estimated as many as five ambulances and between 40 to 50 personnel will be stationed at what is currently AMR’s facility on Boston Way.
AMR has seen its financial situation drastically altered for the worse over the course of several months. The downspiral began in December when officials at Anna Jaques Hospital in Newburyport announced it was replacing AMR with Action Ambulance for all discharge trips. Action Ambulance has 16 different branches, including one on Graf Road in Newburyport.
In August, AMR New England general manager Brendan McNiff announced the company would be closing various locations in the Merrimack Valley after wage concession negotiations with the National Emergency Medical Services Association union failed. To save money, AMR is consolidating its dispatching services to one central location in Natick and cutting dozens of positions.
Union concessions were sought after Blue Cross Blue Shield, one of the largest health care providers in the state, changed the way it reimbursed AMR and other ambulance service providers for trips. Because AMR was unable to reach an agreement with Blue Cross Blue Shield, Anna Jaques Hospital made the switch to Action Ambulance, which has an agreement with the insurance provider, in an effort to minimize health care costs, according to hospital officials.
Cataldo Ambulance Service also has an agreement with Blue Cross Blue Shield, but hospital Executive Vice President Mark Goldstein said there are no plans for Anna Jaques to alter its arrangement with Action Ambulance. Goldstein said the hospital has been more than satisfied with Action Ambulance’s service and will stick with the company at least until the end of its two-year contract, which expires Dec. 31, 2013.