Gloucester Township Council will likely vote on a resolution to approve the township's 2013 emergency medical services (EMS) provider at its Dec. 27 meeting, and the name of that provider may come as a surprise to many.
Gloucester Township EMS Alliance was the lone entity to submit a proposal for the contract, according to township officials, and will likely be the township's EMS provider for 2013.
"We need to evaluate the bid that came in. There was only one bidder, and that was the new GT EMS, under a new board," Council President Glen Bianchini said during Council's work session.
Kennedy Health System, which took over ambulance service in late June when the township banished Erial-based GT EMS Alliance, opted to not bid for the 2013 contract with the township. Kennedy officials determined it would not be profitable to operate its ambulances in Gloucester Township, Business Administrator Tom Cardis said.
GT EMS Alliance will not charge the township to provide EMS services under the proposal, but will instead bill patients it treats and transports. Its leadership met with township officials, including Cardis and Mayor David Mayer, to discuss changes they've made since June.
"I was very impressed with the changes that they've made and the accountability, and the fact that they reiterated in several points during that presentation that there was no one from the old regime that was going to be involved," Cardis said.
Tom Eden, the former Gloucester Township EMS Alliance chief at the center of last summer's controversy, is no longer affiliated with the ambulance service, Cardis said.
Kennedy's emergency contract with Gloucester Township was for just six months. The deal expires Dec. 31. The contract did not cost the township any money.
Kennedy pulled a third ambulance it was running in Gloucester Township Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. about two weeks ago, giving the township four or five days' notice of its decision, according to Cardis.
Gloucester Township EMS Alliance has been filling that void since.
"They were able to secure an ambulance and they are, in fact, covering during that time period," Cardis said of GT EMS Alliance.
Kennedy Health System dropped the third ambulance over the 12-hour period because call volume did not justify its placement within the township, Kennedy spokeswoman Nicole Pensiero said Wednesday.
With the six-month emergency contract set to expire roughly six weeks later, Cardis indicated it was deemed to not be worth fighting Kennedy on its decision, especially with GT EMS Alliance in place.
At its July 2 meeting, Council received an extensive report from Gloucester Township Police Chief W. Harry Earle outling a series of violations found by state health officials at GT EMS Alliance's Erial station house on June 26—an inspection that resulted in the state temporarily shutting down GT EMS Alliance.
The inspection found that five GT EMS Alliance ambulances and an SUV were not registered, with two ambulances also uninspected. There also were several equipment and supply deficiencies found on the vehicles.
New Jersey Office of Emergency Medical Services in August fined GT EMS Alliance $6,250 for the violations.
Earle indicated a total of three EMS Alliance employees came forward to police over a roughly 18-month investigation to express "their concerns of ineffective leadership, drug abuse, and misuse of funds."
Recalling those allegations, as well as statements from GT EMS Alliance employees that their concerns about the direction the ambulance service was heading leading up to the shut-down were rebuked, Erial resident Jim Kibelstis implored Council during Monday's meeting to help protect anyone who might come forward with damning information in the future.
"The thing I'm worried about is the employees, because the employees who were there...they did make issues known to the board of that group and were more or less, you know, told not to worry about it—'We've got it. It's coming. We're going to get the replacements,'" he said. "You've got to protect these people, because they want their jobs. ... I guess you could just call it a 'whistleblower.'"