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Coloma, Pride Care ambulance merger affects Cass County

Published 2:40pm Thursday, January 21, 2010

Pride Care Ambulance of Kalamazoo and Coloma Emergency Medical Service (CEMS), which serves the Dowagiac area, Monday announced a merger to become the largest ambulance provider in southwest Michigan.

Pride Care Ambulance and CEMS Medical Transport entered into a “strategic partnership” Jan. 15.

The companies finalized their plans for the merger, which has been in the exploratory phase for the last year and a half.

Both companies entered into preliminary talks in 2008 in an effort to explore ways of working together to cut operating costs and improve efficiencies.

Tim Onderlinde, president and chief financial officer for the newly-formed company, said, “In today’s economy, we need to look at ways to reduce our costs and pass on those savings to our customers. Municipalities, health care providers and, most importantly, patients will get even better care with less cost to them.”

Pride Care will be the official company name in order to most effectively represent the regional aspects of the company.

Brian Balow, chairman and chief executive officer of Pride Care, said, “We will be hiring additional EMTs (emergency medical technicians) and paramedics and making no changes to our top management and supervisory positions.”

The companies will now have in excess of 200 employees and will be the largest ambulance provider in southwest Michigan.

Pride Care will now provide more than 60,000 transports a year – emergency and non-emergency – in five counties: Cass, Berrien, Van Buren, Kalamazoo and Barry.

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