Thursday, October 04, 2012

Divided Council Keeps Nazareth Ambulance at Gracedale

Nazareth Ambulance's Mike Snyder
Northampton County could save $30,000 per year by switching ambulance companies for nonemergency medical transports. It's currently served by Nazareth Ambulance, but Lifestar could do it for less. What's more, it would keep three rigs in the driveway at all times. It would even add the Gracedale logo to its ambulances.

Two weeks ago, Nazareth paramedic Mike Snyder argued that, if the County awarded a new contract to Lifestar, it would be a "death blow to our ambulance corps." Because Nazareth paramedics actually know the Gracedale residents and even have family members among them, he successfully persuaded a unanimous Council to table a resolution that would have awarded the bid to Lifestar.

At tonight's Council meeting, Gracedale Administrator Millard "D" Freeman renewed his pitch to award a new and cheaper contract to Lifestar. "We're working very hard to save you a little bit of money with each contract," he noted, adding that Nazareth Ambulance would still get approximately 1,100 ("don't quote me") calls every year. He noted that there are just as many Lifestar employees living in Nazareth and they have family at the County nursing home, too. But what makes Lifestar even more attractive to Freeman is its ability to handle unlimited transports with its own staff, which would ease his manpower burden.

Council members Scott Parsons and Bob Werner met with Gracedale administrators over the past two weeks, and came away convinced that it's time for a change.

"It was an upfront deal." said Parsons. "This is a tough one, guys. You don't like to see Nazareth lose this thing. ... It comes down to dollars and cents."

But Council member Peg Ferraro urged her colleagues to "look at this from a human point of view and not a dollars and cents point of view." One of those colleagues Bruce Gilbert, worried that a switch would have an "an ill effect on the surrounding neighborhood."

In the end, six Council members - Bruce Gilbert, Ken Kraft, Lamont McClure, Barb Thierry, Tom Dietrich & Peg Ferraro - refused to award the contract to Lifestar. Immediately after that rejection, they adopted a resolution awarding the job to Nazareth.

One big difference between Nazareth and Lifestar, and something that administrators failed to consider in the bidding process, is that Nazareth, unlike Lifestar, is a public non-profit. It's not in it for the money.

Blogger's Note: I decided to cover this meeting via the livestream instead of in person. It was excellent quality.

37 comments:

Anonymous said...

who owns the helicopter seen on the Gracedale property?

Bernie O'Hare said...

I think it is St. Luke's.

Anonymous said...

Did you notice there seems to be a malware issue on the blog, Bernie? Google Chrome Browser won't let me load it. It says it has something to do with software from www.jlittau.net

Anonymous said...

Good stuff! Awesome job to all and especially council members who voted to keep the local corp

Now if only council funds human service programs the county would be in the right direction.

Bernie O'Hare said...

9:36, I just finished a diagnostic and have seen no evidence of anything from that site. Also, absolutely no malware. i have asked google to check, but that might take a day or two. In the meantime, this will kill the blog bc nobody will want to read something with a warning.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I have removed my link to Littau's blog. Too bad. It seems like a good one.

Bernie O'Hare said...

It was a tough call, as Parsons said.

Jenny Blue said...

glad these bozos aren't handling my money

Bill Coker said...

Being raised in Chicago I've always been taught that "family is family but business is business". Seems to me that a $30,000 savings is a reasonable reason to change coverage. If Gracedal is the only reason Nazareth ambulance exists, perhaps something is out of order.

Bill Coker said...

Gracedale

Bernie O'Hare said...

You're a brave man, Bill. It does seem as though Council attempts to undercut every effort to save money.

Anonymous said...

This is reminiscent of Wayne Grube declaring council chambers "nice" after sinful cost overruns. What a bunch of irresponsible dopes. It' s not their money.

Hokie Joe said...

This is why this bunch of clowns have got to go. I don't mind my tax dollars going to Gracedale to help the elderly as long as my money is being used wisely. This is not using my money wisely. I will remember this vote and you can rest assured I will not vote for anyone who refuses to maximize my county tax dollars and minimize the burden on me as a taxpayer. I helped elect some of these people to represent me and my best interests. This is not my best interests. You're not going to get me to vote for keeping Gracedale in County Hands when you do stupid crap like this.

Bill Coker said...

By the way, if Nazareth is a nonprofit why is it $30,000 more than a for profit outfit with apparently more equipment and personnel?

Anonymous said...

Fear Hokie Joe Angle, you never voted for Gracedale to begin with.

Anonymous said...

why is this even council's call? this should be the executive's decision, no?

Anonymous said...

Everyone needs to look at the big picture, This is a case of David vs Goliath. Nazareth ambulance is a Northampton county based ambulance corp, Nazareth have been serving the area for over 30 years, Now a out of state ambulance (lifestar) that is owned by a foreign company (Falck) is forcing their way into the area and putting local people out of work. Ask yourself this, Do you want your tax dollars to stay local or do you want to send money oversees? It will cost the county more money in the long run to have the employees of Nazareth Ambulance out of work collecting unemployment!!

Anonymous said...

You have the name wrong in the picture, That gentleman's name is Mike Snyder

Bernie O'Hare said...

I will correct that. Thanks.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"why is this even council's call? this should be the executive's decision, no?"

No. Council must sign off on major contracts under the Admin Code. The purpose of this law is to give them some oversight over executive decisions.

Anonymous said...

when did that change occur?

Bernie O'Hare said...

That has been in the admin code as long as I can remember. The amount was lowered when Reibman was in office, but I don't remember what it is. Any contract in excess of $100,000 must be approved by Council.

http://www.northamptoncounty.org/northampton/lib/northampton/depts/countyexecutive/administrative_code.pdf

Anonymous said...

Put local people out of work? Rubbish. LifeStar provided evidence that 22 of its LV ambulance staff live in Norco. It is likely that Nazareth Ambulance staff would be hired by LifeStar if they got the contract. Their Lehigh Valley garage is located in Bethlehem, Norco. They are a for profit company that pays taxes in the county. But don't let facts get in the way of an emotional decision.

Bernie O'Hare said...

They are a for profit company, and in my opinion, that's not something in their favor.

Also, I am a bit surprised. Last night, Dee Freeman told Council that LifeStar had more Nazareth employees than Nazareth. but if it only has 22 employees county-wide, that simply cannot be true.

Anonymous said...

You must have misquoted Peg Ferraro. The published quote is absolutely that of a profoundly mentally retarded individual. There's no way Peg said that. There's no way she's that fiscally irresponsible. A correction is in order.

Anonymous said...

@1234: I was at the meeting and yes, peg did say that..she led her bit off with a speech about how this should be looked at this from a humanistic perspective not just about money. She's from Nazareth and probably is looking at securing them for her upcoming election.

Bernie O'Hare said...

12:34, I try to be as accurate as I can when I quote someone. In a few days, when the video is available, I will double check. This is Peg Ferraro. It's true she is from Nazareth and is probably looking for a few votes, but I think she would have taken this view if it were Hellertown or anywhere else. And there is much to be said for her view. The decision to renew nazareth means an extra $30k for year to the county, but it keeps around 40 people employed in Nazareth. If the earlier anonymous commenter is accurate, that's approximately twice the number that LifeStar would have in the entire county.

It's a tough decision, but I would go with Nazareth in this instance.

Bernie O'Hare said...

". So now were spending tax dollars on our friends' businesses instead of looking at the facts alone."

Actually, the pulic interest is served when dollars and jobs are kept here instead of being sent to a company that is not even based in the U.S. If it were strictly a matter of dollars and cents, there was an even cheaper bid from a Whitehall ambulance company. But I understand your point and there are good arguments on both sides of this question.

Anonymous said...

It's nice the counsel did something right this time. Nazareth ambulance have great employees, but Nazareth ambulance counsel have to start listening to the peole working there all the time. Nazareth was awarded the contract, but they better start working together and making it a better place for the employees to work. The Nazareth counsel can save money and become better efficent if they listen and understand the working condiion the employees work in everytime they work. Nazareth counsel get off your butts and take a long hard look and listen to the people working there.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Can you explain what you are getting at? Isn't the president of Borough Council your Exec Director? I sure as hell hope he does not participate in any way in decisions on Council that concern Nazareth Ambulance. I doubt he would.

Anonymous said...

Not excusing anyone of anything yet. But the nazareth ambulance cousel better start looking into what the employees have to deal with every day. Each counsel member should take a day out of their busy schedules and spend a day at the ambulance building and talk with the employees and get their opinions of what really goes on. Ate they afraid to talk to the peole there. And I mean a full 12 hour shift like the people there work, not just an hour or two when it is convenante for them to stop in. they all should get to know the people they ate making decission for. I give you all places has their good and bad pionts, but as a counael member you should work together with the people there tomake it as effiecent as possible. the people there would like to talk to you, since they are no allowed at the counsel meetings to talk.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Once again, I have no idea what you are getting at, but it seems to me that nobody should be forced to take a day off to go over to Nazareth Ambulance and spend a day there asking them questions about how great they are. That statement belies a certain arrogance that is making me question my own belief that the award should have gone to Nazareth.

And I do now have questions. You are obviously from Nazareth Ambulance, and are concerned that Boro Council is not doing something you want done, or doing something you don't want done.

Your exec director is President of Boro Council. Your Solicitor just happens to be the boro's solicitor. I know you want new facilities 0.9 miles from Gracedale, presumably in the borough.

If Council needs to take any action, are the President of Borough Council and its solicitor recusing themselves? They would have a clear conflict of interest bc they both have a direct financial interest in the ambulance company. The Mayor is on the board. rev. Matz, a Council member, is on the board.

Does Nazareth Ambulance get any funding from the borough? According to the 990s on file, it is 99% publicly funded.

Up to now, I've had no questions about Nazareth Ambulance, but now you have me wondering.

Anonymous said...

No I am not or ever been an employee of Nazareth ambulance. Sure they are a good employees, who have suggestion on how to help the eatablishment be more effeciant. All boss would like to hear from their enployees to make the work place better. I did not say counsel should take a day off of work, since the ambulance corp runs 24/7. I am suggesting the counsel members take some time to listen, really listeb to the workers. I do believe the counsel has proposed a new building for them. That's great, but they still have to sit and listen to the workers. As a boss my business got better when I listened to my
workers. I do know most of the cousel have or had their own business, so they should understand what I am saying, hopefully.

Bernie O'Hare said...

It seems to me that Naz. Boro Council has a very good idea what is going on at Nazareth ambulance since half of Council sits on its board and they share solicitors. You can deny that you are a member, but I will view that denial with suspicion bc you re commenting anonymously. If anything, my concern is that Naz Boro Council is a third wheel on the Naz ambulance bicycle.

Anonymous said...

I an answering because of who I am, I will sa it again I do not or never worked there. I am a concern business owner who listen to everyone. I felt this was my time to say what I think and believe. If the counsel say they know what's going on then why are some employees feel as though they are not being heard.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I am pretty sure they were heard. County Council awarded the contract to them. Boro Council is comprised of them.

Anonymous said...

I am glad county cousel awarded Nazareth again. They are very good when it comes to saving people. They are exetremly knowldeable, they understad what people need. Guys keep up the good work.