CAPE MAY COURT HOUSE - The Cape Regional Medical Center is outsourcing its basic ambulance transportation service and a union representative on Wednesday said the matter will end up in court.
"We will be battling this one out in the legal realm," said Claire Galiano, a representative with Uniformed Food and Commercial Workers Local 152.
Galiano, who said the ambulance service has been operating for 20 years, said she was told at 9 a.m. on Wednesday the hospital was hiring the Millville Rescue Squad to do the work. Galiano said she told workers at mid-day.
"They have privatized. The effective date is May 11. There was not much notice at all. They never gave the union the chance to negotiate concessionary measures. The collective bargaining agreement is in full force. It doesn't expire for two years," Galiano said.
Galiano said nine full-time workers and several part-time employees are losing their jobs. This does not include a non-union worker who directs the ambulance division. She said the hospital is meeting with workers to see if there are other jobs for them but she doubts any are as good as the jobs being lost.
"These were good hourly rates, benefits, paid time off, a pension benefit plan. This is a tremendous loss," Galiano said.
Cape Regional Medical Center on Wednesday announced an agreement with the Millville Rescue Squad to provide basic ambulance transportation. Millville Rescue already provided critical care transportation for the 242-bed medical center. It will now provide basic transportation that includes taking patients off site for tests, driving them to skilled nursing facilities and other non-emergency transports.
Millville Rescue Squad has 230 employees and has been providing ambulance service for more than 50 years. It transports more than 50,000 patients a year. According to a hospital press release, the decision was based on economics.
"Cape Regional Medical Center has seen a significant reduction in reimbursement for ambulance transportation and can no longer continue to afford providing this service," states a hospital press release.
Galiano said she was told Medicare and Medicaid reimbursement money is being cut back on both the federal and state levels.
"It's basic economics. The rationale is there is a projected loss of $50,000 this year based on Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements," Galiano said.