Earlier this week, Governor Wolf announced the recipients of $50 million in grants to help employers provide hazard pay to employees in life-sustaining industries.
Created through the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the reimbursement-based grant is available to employers offering hazard pay during the eligible program period and will be administered by the Department of Community and Economic Development.
During the two-week application window, the administration received more than 10,000 applications totaling nearly $900 million. A list of awardees is available here.
Emergency Medical Services agencies throughout Berks County and the entire Commonwealth of Pennsylvania were notified by The Department of Community and Economic Development that not a single ambulance provider in Pennsylvania received eligible grant funding for the DCED COVID-19 Hazard Pay Grant Program.
In a conference call with Berks County EMS COVID-19 Joint Task Force members Tuesday morning, leaders highlighted the necessity in extending this benefit to their employees.
In Berks County, the average salary of an EMS employee (EMT or Paramedic) is less than the threshold of the statutory maximum. Of the 15 EMS organizations that service Berks County daily, nearly every eligible organization reportedly applied for the grant and were shocked to discover that not only were they not approved, but not a single EMS organization throughout the Commonwealth received funding either.
In remarks from the Ambulance Association of Pennsylvania, President Dean Bollendorf stated that this is, “the latest frustration to address the financial, physical and emotional concerns facing EMS providers daily was the failure of the Department of Community and Economic Development to award NOT ONE EMS Agency who applied under the Governor’s Hazard Pay Grant.”
In a statement, Berks County EMS COVID-19 Joint Task Force say the Hazard Pay Grant was an opportunity to help EMS Agencies compensate EMS providers for the daily physical and emotional toil of fighting the pandemic.
“EMS providers do not only treat COVID-19 and other patients but are an essential keystone in preventing the spread of the virus to other patients and the hospital system through proper infectious control procedure and relentless sanitization.
It is time for the Governor and the General Assembly to heed our warnings and address the financial, physical and emotional concerns facing EMS providers and EMS Agencies in this Commonwealth. Efforts to prevent the failure of our entire EMS System should be the main concern of local and state government.
Emergency Medical Services, the healthcare safety net and first line of defense in the treatment and prevention of the spread of COVID-19, deserves the financial support of the Governor and the General Assembly. We are continually responding and constantly forgotten.
We are asking for the public’s assistance in spreading the word, contacting your legislators, and expressing your outrage that EMS was once again, forgotten in the debate over healthcare in this country.”