Non-emergency Ambulances in Vogue

  • Date: April 06, 2010
  • Source: Admin
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A new fleet of ambulances are now transporting metro-east passengers in wheelchairs and on stretchers -- seniors, the disabled, special-needs children and others in non-emergency situations.

"We're kind of a step between a cab ride and an ambulance ride," said Steve McGoff, president of Metro East EMT.

McGoff and his father launched the venture last month in Collinsville, becoming the metro-east's franchise of the St. Louis-based Express Medical Transporters. The nonprofit business began in St. Louis in 1996. Founder Bernie Squitieri had been the general manager of one of the largest taxi cab companies in the Bronx when he moved to St. Louis 17 years ago to be closer to his wife's family. He established his own taxi service, Arnold Taxi, with just a 1989 Chevy Caprice in November 1995.

At that time, the state of Missouri was implementing a managed health-care program, in which federal Medicaid regulations mandated that the state provide transportation for eligible recipients. Squitieri saw an opportunity when he realized a lack of qualified transportation providers.

He renamed and adapted his business to provide non-emergency transportation to residents in St. Louis and the St. Louis County. Franchising began in October 2007. Today, the company transports 500,000 people a year.

The new Collinsville franchise is in a 1,200-square-foot office at 9500 Collinsville Road. McGoff said it will soon include 15 employees, including 12 licensed drivers. Metro-east residents can now call on EMT to provide trips to the doctor's office, adult day-care and group homes in Madison, St. Clair and Monroe counties.

"It's a niche business," McGoff said. "But it's a big niche."

Most of the people McGoff's ambulances transport need to make a doctor's appointment and because of their condition or physical limitations, they simply need reliable transportation. Most trips are to hospitals for dialysis treatments and rehabilitation appointments, to nursing homes, adult day-care and group homes.

McGoff said many qualify for Medicare coverage and other private insurance that provides EMT's services. McGoff has recently applied to become a Medicaid provider.

"That's a fairly drawn-out process to become an approved provider," he said. "It's very tedious. So we've been grinding that machine for the last few months, and we're getting close."

McGoff and his father are not new to the metro-east. For years, the St. Louis native and his father owned a number of Midas auto repair shops throughout the region. At one time, Paul McGoff and his son operated seven shops on both sides of the river, including all four of the chain's locations in Fairview Heights, Collinsville, Glen Carbon and Alton.

McGoff and his father eventually sold the shops by 2006. McGoff stayed on as an employee with Midas for a short time before joining Edward Jones, where he worked for two years as a financial adviser.

"I had a little training and began in January 2008 and proceeded to commence a financial service career in the worst year in market history since 1938," he said.

He later learned about EMT and its growth in St. Louis and St. Louis County. He established his franchise in November and began transporting clients last month.

"We're serving basically that whole 50-mile strip up to Alton and Godfrey all the way down to Waterloo and all points further east to those county lines," he said.

"And we're still crawling."

EMT also has franchises in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Kansas, Mississippi, Missouri, New Mexico, Tennessee and Wisconsin. The company projects an additional 10 franchises will come on line by May, and more than 100 franchises will be in operation within three years.


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