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Why Port Matilda EMS Is in 'Critical Condition'

by on November 11, 2019 2:55 PM

Video by Centre County Report/Fiona Daghir

Emergency medical services in small towns like Port Matilda are facing a critical financial situation that could lead to a collapse of these services. 

In a Facebook post on Nov. 3, Port Matilda EMS said they only had enough funding for their next payroll cycle.

"Port Matilda EMS is currently in a critical situation," the post said. "We have enough funds available to cover one more payroll cycle and that is it. Our annual membership drive is due to come out this week, and we need your support now more than ever. Your purchase of a membership helps protect not only your family in case of a medical emergency, but also helps your community sustain this vital resource."

Thanks to an "outpouring of of kindness and generosity," memberships and donations have helped to cover that cycle, but the concern remains. For areas like this, the ambulance is the community's biggest safety net

"If we run dry, there's no more money, more than likely we close up," said Capt. David Corle Sr.

According to the National Rural Health Association, close to one third of all rural EMS are in immediate danger of closing down. Underfunding and lack of reimbursements have been major issues for these services. While a new law requires insurers to reimburse for treatment by EMS even when a patient is not transported to the hospital, Medicare and Medicaid only cover a fraction of the the cost and underfunding still remains critical.

The staff at Port Matilda EMS is already a small team — Corle said it currently has 10 employees, which means they work very long hours.

"One person might have 60, 70, 80 hours in one week," Corle said.

But they do it all for the safety of their community. Neighbors helping neighbors.

"We have a lot of people getting older, so they run into those health factors," Corle said.

And the cost of maintaining an ambulance is not cheap. Port Matilda EMS has an ambulance in the garage in need of repair, but with how tight money is, he doesn't know how they will afford to get it fixed.

Fundraising efforts to support the Port Matilda EMS are ongoing. A soup and sandwich sale on Nov. 5 sold out in a matter of hours, a memberships have been rolling in. 

"The donations that were attached to some of these memberships really show the community support that makes us Happy Valley," a Facebook post on Friday said. "We have received calls from community members not affiliated with EMS willing to help us find ways to generate income and go after money that we were not aware was available.

"Good things are happening because of good people and we at the Port Matilda EMS want to thank YOU."

Those who wish to help can visit https://www.facebook.com/PMEMS/ or call (814) 692-1035



The Centre County Report is produced by students and faculty from Penn State's College of Communications. It is designed to serve a dual purpose. It is a source of news and information to the residents of Centre County.
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