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Canadian company buying Baystate Health Ambulance

GREENFIELD — Baystate Health announced Wednesday it intends to sell its ambulance service, which serves as the emergency first responders for seven Franklin County towns, to Canadian health company Medavie EMS.

When the sale is complete this April, ambulance sites in Greenfield and Springfield will become part of the newly formed MedCare Emergency Health. Financial terms of the sale were not disclosed on Wednesday.

What the deal means for the future of emergency medical response in Greenfield and neighboring towns remains to be seen. A spokesman for the Nova Scotia company insists things will be “business as usual,” but Greenfield Mayor William Martin said the town would be wise to consider all of its public safety options going forward.

Baystate Health Ambulance, which has a Greenfield office on High Street, responded to about 6,500 calls in the county last year. It serves as the first responders for Greenfield, Montague, Bernardston, Gill, Shelburne, Leyden and Erving.

“We 100 percent intend to honor all the existing ... contracts and commitments (with the towns),” said John Ferguson, spokesman for MedLife, the United States branch of Medavie EMS. The new owners also intend to keep all 38 of the Greenfield-based employees.

But should layoffs occur, Baystate Health spokesman Benjamin Craft said the health system would work to find those people new jobs in the company.

Craft said that the sale was not based on financial motives. Baystate Health officials have wanted recently to focus more on “core services” offered in hospitals and medical offices, including at Greenfield’s Baystate Franklin Medical Center. Ambulance services did not fit into that picture.

And so conversations began after Medavie EMS officials, fresh off an acquisition last year of EasCare Ambulance in Boston, expressed interest in buying other ambulance practices in the state. Craft said Baystate spoke informally to a few other potential partners, but the Canadian company was the only one with whom there were serious discussions.

Greenfield Mayor William Martin said he had been notified about the impending sale announcement and has plans to meet with the future owners next week.

Martin said the town had already been conducting a study about if the fire department officials could step up its role as emergency medical responders in Greenfield. The study is nearly completed and could lead to some public safety changes this spring, he said.

“We expect and have been informed that there will be no change in (ambulance) service or employees,” he said. “The future, of course, is subject to change and we would be prudent to be prepared for all possibilities.”

Baystate Health Ambulance has six ambulances in Greenfield.

Thirteen ambulances in the greater Springfield area perform first-response backup and patient transport duties.

You can reach Chris Shores at: cshores@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 264

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