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Hopedale - Local Town Pages

Hopedale hopes to expand ambulance service “as a means to grow revenue”

By Theresa Knapp 

Hopedale town officials are in discussions with Milford Regional Medical Center to help cover its Emergency Room discharge backlog which will also help cover the annual budget for the Hopedale Fire Department. 

Town Administrator Mitch Ruscitti told the Select Board at its Feb. 12 meeting, “The [Fire] Chief and I have discussed at length a proposal to enter a facility transport program with our ambulance service through the fire department as a means to grow revenue for that department which would help offset some of the costs of running the department. It is a successful model in other communities.”

Ruscitti said he recently met with representatives from Milford Regional to discuss the partnership. “There is interest in partnering to provide facility transfers there.” 

Ruscitti said this plan would require Hopedale to hire an additional five staff personnel “which expense projections of somewhere in the area of $240,000 to $250,000 range for those five personnel with revenue projections of upwards of $1 million annually once the program is up and running.”

Ruscitti and Fire Chief Thomas Daige are working on a full proposal that will be presented to the board, and town meeting, at a later date.

At the meeting, Daige said, if the town decides to go forward with this plan, the hope would be to launch on July 1. 

Daige said these ambulance charges are 100% reimbursable “because it’s a medical necessity that the patient go by ambulance to a facility or to home.” He said there is an approximate three-month turnaround time from billing to payment. 

He said current ambulance staffing would remain the same for Hopedale residents, and the additional runs from Milford Regional would be covered by the five new hires.  

Ruscitti said, “Given our always-tight budgets, this is not something that we would be putting forward if it didn’t generate revenue for the town, and if it impacted services in any way negatively,” Ruscitti said. “We will be able to receive the same services from Hopedale Ambulance, Hopedale Fire, and it will bring revenue in as a driver for town which is something that we desperately need.” 

This year’s expected ambulance receipts are estimated at $400,000. This program could quadruple that number, said the Chief. Once all receipts are in, and the fire department budget is covered, any overage would be certified free cash and go into the town’s general fund. 

In 2021, Hopedale had applied for a SAFER (Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response) grant that would have had a similar result.