DENVER — Without warning, 40 employees of Citywide Ambulance, a Denver-area ambulance company, are out of a job.
Many say they are owed thousands of dollars in back pay and are getting no response trying to reach the company’s owner.
“Without notice, we’re shut down. We had to strand patients at their appointments. Dialysis, whatever they were at, and told we could not return them. Everybody had to come back to base and we were terminated,” dispatcher and senior EMT Andrew Bullock said.
That included company locations in Loveland, Colorado Springs and Aurora, totaling nearly 100 employees.
“We came in Friday hoping to get our paychecks and do our jobs as normal, and we’re told that we couldn’t return here. We couldn’t get our patients. We weren’t going to get paid. And for all of us, it left a lot of us in tears,” EMT Emily Guzzo said.
“It’s left us pretty barren. I have two children and it’s rent time, and I’m three weeks shy on pay. So it’s going to be really hard right now.”
A company attorney sent employees a letter saying “through no fault of ownership” the company was forced to shut down because of money owed by Medicare and Medicaid.
“I can’t imagine the people who were relying on this paycheck to pay their rent and, you know, support their children,” said Guzzo, who was working her first EMT job at the company.
But employees gave paperwork that they say shows the company was receiving payments and should be in good financial shape.
“There’s people that have gone two months without pay. A lot of checks have been bounced. We’ve really been put through the ringer trying to make this company a helpful asset to the community because we care,” senior EMT Seth Knop said.
All of the employees said they want their patients to understand they had nothing to do with leaving them stranded.
“We got into this field to help people and not just leave them stranded,” Bullock said.
“I was completely in shock. There’s absolutely no reason as to why we aren’t going to finish our transports. I mean, we aren’t like that. We care about each other and we care about our patients,” Knop said.
They say attempts to reach owner Steve Yushkevich have been blocked or rejected, and the locks on the office doors have been changed.
“Out of the blue, get blindsided and have it shut its doors and kick us to the curb so to speak. Mismanagement is the only thing I can think of. Where the funds went, we’re not sure,” Bullock said.
Attempts to reach Yushkevich and his attorney were unsuccessful. The employees say they will take their case to the Labor Board and try to file for unemployment, but say they desperately need help.