York County coroner seeks transport bids

Greg Gross

The York County Coroner's Office is seeking bids for transporting bodies after longtime provider White Rose Ambulance opted to end its contract with the county.

The change is expected to increase the coroner's budget 17 percent, or $108,000, as part of the overall $525 million county budget.

The county is tentatively looking at a 12 percent tax increase, from 4.52 mills to 5.07 mills, in its 2016 budget and commissioners and staff are still hammering out details.

Commissioners will vote on the budget Wednesday, Dec. 23.

White Rose: For about 18 years, the York City-based ambulance company has been transporting — at cut-rate costs — the deceased from scenes to York Hospital and to Lehigh Valley Hospital in Allentown for autopsies if one is required, Coroner Pam Gay told commissioners at their weekly meeting.

Gay learned White Rose would no longer provide the service  in October, about a month after she submitted her budget to the county.

"It's just too big of a job for one entity," she said in an interview after the meeting.

The county pays flat fees of $100 per trip to York Hospital and $515 for a trip to Allentown, Gay said.

Ted Hake, the vice president of finance compliance with White Rose, said the ambulance company opted to end the contract due to increasing demands for emergency services. White Rose also provides nonemergency services, such as patient transport.

"We need to focus on the needs of the living," he said, noting the demand for service has gone up as the age of residents has increased.

Bids: Only one company submitted a bid for making the trips to Allentown, Gay said, adding it is expected to be approved by commissioners next week.

But for the in-county transportation services, the office is still seeking bids. Hake said White Rose may submit one.

President Commissioner Steve Chronister said he's hopeful bids will be favorable to the county.

"This is a pretty unique service you can't get everywhere," Commissioner Chris Reilly said. "We may be between a rock and a hard place."

If the coroner's office didn't contract the service, the cost to the county would be at least double, Gay said.

The county would have to add roughly five additional people, purchase at least three vehicles and could incur associated costs for a 24-hour, 7-day a week service, she said.

"It's a huge task," Gay said. "You have to have several people."

— Reach Greg Gross at ggross@yorkdispatch.com.