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Ligonier ambulance service subscription enrollment begins

| Wednesday, Aug. 21, 2013, 9:01 p.m.

The annual Ligonier Valley Ambulance Service subscription drive is underway.

Subscription enrollment forms have been mailed to residents in the service areas of Ligonier Borough, Ligonier Township, Laurel Mountain Borough, parts of Fairfield Township and Rolling Rock.

”In today's environment, insurance companies do not cover as much as thought to be covered,” said Walter Lipinski, the Ligonier Valley Ambulance Service chief. “Subscribing to a local ambulance service can help offset these expenses.”

Lipinski said an ambulance bill can reach $700 to $1,000 and people don't realize it can be that expensive.

Benefits for subscribers includes unlimited emergency ambulance transportation to a hospital emergency room without fear of added out-of-pocket expenses; non-emergency ambulance transportation to and from approved facilities; and reduced rates for transportation not medically necessary or for transportation to or from an unapproved facility.

The subscription covers all family members living in the same household.

“Every citizen should subscribe,” said Lipinski. “We have 1,007 subscribers last year and 3,000 people registered in our database. That is not even a third of the people in the community that could subscribe to the service. There are 10,000 people in the local population.”

Although most of those who do subscribe for the service are elderly, Lipinski noted that the most common emergencies his service responds to includes shortness of breath and chest pain followed by trauma.

To save out-of-pocket expenses for the transport, the ambulance service will bill the member's insurance carrier or Medicare directly.

He said the subscription is also honored by several other area ambulance services, should a member need transportation in other parts of Westmoreland County.

The ambulance service also provides transportation for area residents confined to a wheelchair at a discounted rate for service. This cost is not included in the subscription. The cost for a one-way transport is $27 and includes the first 10 miles plus $2 per mile for each additional mile. Non-subscribers pay $50 per trip plus $2 per mile after 10 miles.

The wheelchair transportation service is available 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Extended and weekend hours are based on need and 24-hour in advance appointment.

This year's subscription is valid for the 16-month period of August 2013 through December 2014. Future subscriptions will be based on a January to December subscription period. An individual membership is $35; family membership is $45 and a lifetime membership is $500.

The monies collected will be used to support the transportation department and help maintain its state-of-the-art equipment. “It helps us to fund the purchase of new equipment and keep it up to date,” Lipinski said.

Founded in 1967 through a gift from the R. K. Mellon Foundation, the ambulance service operates under the direction of Excela Health at its new facility on North Market Street.

For more information, call 724-238-4935.

Deborah A. Brehun is a staff editor for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-238-2111 or dbrehun@tribweb.com.

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