Rural Metro denies fraud after Health Department targets paramedic program

CNY Central has learned that Rural Metro Ambulance Service's recertification program for paramedics has been on probation by order of the New York State Health Department for the past seven months. In addition, 26 employees have been ordered to undergo refresher courses according to a letter obtained under Freedom of Information.

The Health Department launched an investigation into the ambulance service last May after receiving a complaint from former employees about alleged "fraud" that allowed paramedics to remain on the job without undergoing proper recertification. The letter to the company's Syracuse General Manager Michael Addario is dated May 23rd. It was written 15 days after CNY Central's Jim Kenyon exposed the allegations surrounding Rural Metro's Continuing Medical Education (CME) Recertification Program at its Syracuse headquarters.

While the letter does not specifically confirm the allegations of fraud, it reveals that investigators made "findings ...severe enough for the Bureau Of Emergency Medical Services to require corrective measures."

Among other things an audit of the CME program found:

- Program policies and program plan were out of date and not adhered to

- 27 employees had no documentation to show they completed any of the Core Refresher hours as required for recertification

- Five employees apparently did not have proof of CPR certification

- Dates did not match up with recertification applications

- Overall disorganization of files and proof of CME completion

Though specific names have been redacted from the letter, the Health Department ordered that 26 individuals complete refresher courses "due to the lack of any CORE Refresher CME documentation."

Five employees were ordered to show proof that they had proper training in CPR.

The letter to Rural Metro concludes: "your agencies CME Recertification Program will be place in a probationary status through May 30, 2014. If any additional regulatory or ...Policy violations are found, the Bureau of Emergency Medical Services may impose an increase in the probationary period or permanently remove your agency from participation in the CME Recertification Program.

Michael Addario is downplaying the significance of the findings. He told Kenyon Wednesday, "We responded to this letter and taken the appropriate actions necessary but there was no fraud at Rural Metro. There were no employees that were not properly certified at any time."

Addario said that no employees lost their jobs as a result of the investigation. He chalks it up to a paperwork problem. "There was no egregious wrongdoing. There was no fraud. If there was, I would think the program would have been shut down."

Click here to read the letter from the Health Department to Rural Metro.