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Bankrupt Pa. ambulance service unable to pay creditors

Jeannette EMS Inc. officials averted foreclosure by transferring their ambulances to a fire department


Jeannette EMS/Facebook

By Joe Napsha
The Tribune-Review

JEANNETTE, Pa. — Bankrupt Jeannette EMS Inc., which abruptly closed operations July 3, will not have any money to pay its unsecured creditors after it pays administrative expenses related to its bankruptcy, according to a court filing.

Jeannette EMS will have until Wednesday to file a detailed list of its assets and creditors, according to documents filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Pittsburgh. Bankruptcy Judge Carlota M. Bohm on Oct. 12 granted the closed ambulance service an extension to file those documents, after extending the first deadline from Sept. 15.

In its initial Sept. 11 filing to liquidate remaining assets under a Chapter 7 petition, Jeannette EMS said it had fewer than 50 creditors that are owed between $100,000 and $500,000, with assets of a similar value. Unsecured creditors are those without any collateral to secure the money loaned or services provided.

The Jeannette EMS board of directors approved a resolution July 28 to file a Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition to reorganize its finances, which would have given the nonprofit protection from its creditors while in that process.

Randy Highlands, Jeannette EMS operations director, was given the authority to hire a bankruptcy attorney. He could not be reached for comment Monday.

Highlands previously said the financial problems facing the ambulance service, which had been in business for 63 years, were caused by insufficient funding and low reimbursement rates from the insurance companies of patients it served.

Arthur Blasco, president of the ambulance service board, also could not be reached for comment.

Among the creditors notified of the bankruptcy was Key Bank, which filed a mortgage foreclosure lawsuit in Westmoreland County Court against Jeannette EMS for $339,904 on its line of credit. That line of credit includes the principal balance of $231,488. The bank also was seeking interest payments of $53 a day, since July 7.

The ambulance base at 225 S. Sixth St. was used as collateral to secure the financing. Jeannette officials last week discussed the possibility of using the closed ambulance service base for a new fire hall.

Jeannette EMS transferred two ambulances to the Irwin Volunteer Fire Department Ambulance, which will replace two older ambulances, said Pierre DeFelice, Irwin EMS chief.

The vehicles were transferred as of Sept. 7, and the title was signed over by Jeannette EMS and filed with PennDOT, said Daniel Blottenberger, U.S. Department of Agriculture spokesman. Turning over ownership of the vehicles — the Irwin fire department signed an agreement to pay for the two ambulances — averts a foreclosure on the vehicles by the USDA, Blottenberger said. Jeannette EMS had obtained a $140,800 loan and $100,000 grant to purchase the ambulances.

Mutual Aid Ambulance Service in Greensburg is providing ambulance service in Jeannette for the remainder of the year.

Ken Bacha, Mutual Aid’s chief operations officer, said the ambulance service has yet to talk with Jeannette officials about continuing to provide the service in 2024. Mutual Aid provides the service in Jeannette from bases in Greensburg and Adamsburg.

Ethan Keedy, Jeannette’s fiscal officer, could not be reached for comment Monday.

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