SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Many people in Springfield rely on medical transportation to get to and from appointments and treatment. Now, a company that offers those services is closing.
That's leaving drivers without jobs and patients wondering what they'll do next.
Express Medical Transporters is based in St. Louis, but has been in Springfield for more than five years. Every day, drivers take 50 to 100 patients to doctor appointments and treatments. In exactly four weeks, those services will stop.
A necessity for medical treatment is a simple fact of life for Reba Aimoe.
"It's dialysis. If I don't go to dialysis, I'm going to die," Aimoe said.
She's in end-stage kidney failure and can't drive. For the last eight years, Reba's relied on drivers like Bonnie O'Rourke at EMT to get her to those treatments on time.
"They know what's going on, they see you first thing in the morning, they see you afterward, they see you at your worst. A lot of them are like family," Aimoe said.
O'Rourke has been with the company for about one year.
"We form bonds with these people, we see them a lot," O'Rourke said.
O'Rourke said her favorite thing about the job is the people she meets. It's also the thing she'll miss the most.
"If I can at least make somebody smile through the day, joke with them, make them a little happy or less anxious going to their appointment, I feel like I've done something," she said.
On March 20th, O'Rourke will be out of a job. The company decided to stop its transport services in Springfield on that date. However, O'Rourke is more worried about her clients.
"A lot of these people, we've transported for years, so they don't know anything but us. So it's like, what do they do after we're no longer here," O'Rourke said.
Aimoe said it'll be difficult getting used to new drivers with another company, but she has a bigger concern.
"Of course they're going to find us somebody else to ride with. They'll do that," Aimoe said. "The problem is, we're going to be there on time, or are we going to miss appointments?"
O'Rourke said EMT drivers are given one hour to pick up a client after they call. Aimoe hasn't seen the same reliability with other local companies, but in less than a month, she simply won't have much of a choice.
"Without it, I die," Aimoe said.
EMT's CEO, Sue Perszyk, wrote in an email this was not an easy decision, but it all came down to profit. She said the company's call center and customer service reps will stay in Springfield. Perszyk also wrote drivers are in such high demand, she's hoping employees will be able to find new jobs quickly.
The full statement is below:
"We will continue to have a presence in Springfield. Our call center, customer service representatives and our VP of Business Development will remain in Springfield. In addition, we are continuing to market in this area for additional business.
Unfortunately, we have had to terminate some of our contracts, with key customers, because they were unprofitable. This was not an easy decision. We worked diligently to improve our financials, but ultimately were unsuccessful. We have provided ample time to these customers to allow them to find other transportation providers and have been reassured by them, that the clients will continue to be transported, by other transportation providers.
We are working with our employees impacted by this decision. Where possible, they have been offered other opportunities within the company. In addition, because our customers work with other transportation providers, and drivers are in such high demand, we are hopeful these other transportation providers in the area will hire them. We have lost one already to another company."