Private ambulance service and Covid response provider Garnet Health will close in 2 weeks

A newcomer to emergency health services in Vermont is closing after playing a significant role in providing testing and vaccination services during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Garnet Transport Medicine LLC, trading as Garnet Health, announced on Tuesday that it will end all of its operations on Jan. 31, the same day the Vermont Department of Health will close its statewide walk-in vaccination clinics.

“Given the shutdown of state and federal government-subsidized COVID-19 services, Garnet is left without sufficient revenue to sustain operations and must make decisions to prevent a catastrophic collapse,” said Ryan Ferris, the company’s president and CEO, in a statement. written statement. The company declined to answer further questions for this article.

Private for-profit company with an office in Williston and transport areas at Essex Junction opened in 2019, offering scheduled ambulance transport between hospitals and long-term care centers or, when needed, private homes and doctors’ offices .

Garnet Health notified the Vermont Department of Labor on Jan. 12 that it would be laying off 76 employees, according to Deputy Labor Commissioner Dustin Degree. The department will help employees arrange unemployment benefits and offer help finding a new job, he said.

As the pandemic minimized facility relocations in early 2020, Garnet Health joined emergency medical providers and mostly non-profit and municipal hospitals at walk-in Covid-19 testing sites of the staff. The company added Covid-19 vaccination services after vaccines became available in 2021.

At the start of the pandemic, Garnet Health was one of the few companies in the state offering same-day Covid-19 testing, then a requirement for travel. By October 2020, the company staffed an on-site test site at Burlington International Airport for travelers and non-travellers. As of December 2020, Garnet was one of 10 emergency services organizations contracted with the state to offer walk-in clinics.

The company has hosted numerous testing and vaccine clinics in Burlington, South Burlington, Essex, and Middlebury, among other locations. Seven Days reported that the company has also provided testing in prisons for the State Department of Corrections and at summer camps.

In the statement, Ferris blamed the company’s financial woes on low reimbursement rates for emergency medical services from insurance companies and “the high cost of operating a professional medical office.”

He said company leadership has pursued a variety of options to keep the business open, including state and federal Covid-19 stabilization grants and efforts to market the company for sale, with no success. Following the layoffs, company leadership will reevaluate its options for reopening “with a more limited offering of medical services going forward,” the statement said.

Will Moran, chief of emergency medical services at the Vermont Department of Health, said the closure will not result in a gap in services. Many ambulance and emergency service providers could step in to provide transportation services, he said. According to the department, more than 180 ambulance and first aid agencies are licensed to operate in Vermont.

But the company’s demise would be felt for other reasons, Moran said.

“Garnet was a valuable ambulance service and provided quality care and ambulance transportation to Vermonters,” Moran said. “Garnet has also answered the call during the Covid-19 pandemic and provided much-needed vaccination and testing services. Their presence will be missed.”

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