April 04, 2020

Ambulance loss woes to be aired in Pembroke

PEMBROKE – With the loss of ambulance services just days away, municipal officials from more than two dozen Washington County communities will meet Tuesday to consider proposals from other service providers.

The 10 a.m. meeting at the Pembroke American Legion Hall comes in the aftermath of last Thursday’s announcement by Dana McGovern that he will close his 9-year-old Calais-based ambulance service at 4 p.m. Dec. 7.

McGovern Ambulance serves 30 communities from Wesley to Danforth and administers the Pleasant River Ambulance Service in western Washington County and the Northern Washington-Southern Aroostook Regional Ambulance Service.

McGovern made the announcement less than two weeks after he was indicted on 241 federal charges alleging that he attempted to defraud Medicaid and Medicare of close to $1 million.

His arraignment – scheduled for Friday in federal district court in Bangor – was postponed when a lawyer involved in the case was unable to appear.

Last Wednesday, the day before McGovern announced that his business was closing, he filed an emergency petition in U.S. Bankruptcy Court seeking to reorganize McGovern Ambulance. His lawyer, Daniel Lacasse of Calais, said the reorganization was necessary to assure that McGovern Ambulance had the equipment and payroll to continue operating until Dec. 7.

The filing prevents McGovern’s creditors from moving against the company while it attempts to reorganize, Lacasse said. Despite the attempt to reorganize, Lacasse acknowledged that the company doesn’t have the money to operate beyond Dec. 7.

Rep. Albion Goodwin, D-Pembroke, said Sunday that he will seek permission from the bankruptcy court to allow another service provider access to McGovern’s equipment, including the 21 ambulances that are stationed throughout the county.

If the court does not agree, Goodwin said he would ask Gov. Angus King to move to secure the equipment as a matter of public safety.

Goodwin said at least one Bangor-based service – Meridian Ambulance – will attend Tuesday’s meeting and is prepared to offer 30-day, 60-day, or 90-day contracts to the affected communities.

“They aren’t looking to make a profit on this,” Goodwin said. “We can’t let these communities go without ambulance service.”

Jay Bradshaw, the director of Maine’s Emergency Medical Services bureau, will also attend Tuesday’s meeting, Goodwin said.

Goodwin has been working to secure an alternative to McGovern Ambulance since June, when the company announced it would have to raise its contract fees with a number of Washington County towns.

The Pembroke legislator convened a June meeting, which resulted in the creation of a committee to investigate alternatives, including the establishment of a regional ambulance service.

Goodwin said he will submit emergency legislation to establish an ambulance authority in Washington County. Such authorities exist in 14 states, but there are none in Maine, Goodwin said.

Goodwin said the committee met Friday night and is sponsoring Tuesday’s meeting. Municipal officials or representatives from all affected communities are encouraged to attend, he said.

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