American Medical Response back in good graces of key Manchester officials
“My primary concern is the safety of our citizens and performance,” Burkush told the committee. “With confidence, I recommend they get the next contract.”
AMR was chosen over American Ambulance Services of New England, the other company vying for the five-year contract. American, a division of the Scandinavian company Falck, has been expanding into New England in recent years. The company won its first emergency contract in New Hampshire in April, when the Somersworth City Council voted 7-1 to select American over AMR.
Burkush said that American’s main disadvantage was that it didn’t have experience contracting with a city the size of Manchester.
The proposals were reviewed by a special ad-hoc committee that included the city’s finance, legal and health directors, and Aldermen Dan O’Neil and Jim Roy, a former firefighter.
He also said he believed AMR’s application should have been invalidated because it did not properly disclose legal actions against the company.“That’s probably the most glaring thing,” Roy said. “One of the parts of the evaluation process is legal performance. If you got a zero on that, the way I read it, you’re out of the process.”AMR, which is the largest private ambulance company in the country, has faced legal action over its billing practices in several states. In 2011, it settled with the U.S. Office of the Inspector General, paying a $2.7 million fine and signing a “Corporate Integrity Agreement,” related to practices in the company’s New York City office.
At a meeting in March, he stated, “AMR lost the city’s trust.”
O’Neil also pointed to a letter from the International Association of Fire Fighters, in Washington, D.C., that accused American of attempting to “manipulate” the bid process by suggesting that the union supported American.
McNiff also has a history with AMR; he was one of the executives who left amid a shake-up late last year.
Gatsas has expressed support for AMR in recent months.
As for the position of his department heads on the contract, Gatsas said, “I’m going to sit down and talk with them about why they’re leaning in that direction.”
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