Ken Carlson

Employer announces final layoffs and timing for closing AMR office in Salida

Employees at the American Medical Response billing center in Salida will continue working on borrowed time, but their employer is firm about closing the office in mid-August, according to recent letters to the Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors.

Centrex Revenue Solutions notified the county that an additional 66 employees will lose their jobs when the operation comes to an end in August. They include medical records employees, billing assistants, quality assurance specialists, a mailroom clerk and supervisors who were not included in previous layoff notices.

Apparently, a few employees will remain through December. According to a Feb. 18 letter from Centrex, the termination date will be Dec. 31 for seven quality assurance employees.

The office on Stoddard Road has handled billing and customer service for the AMR ambulance company in California and other Western states. Many of the billing employees have worked out of their homes to reduce utility costs for the company.

Closing the office eliminates a total of 331 jobs.

In mid-October, American Medical Response announced it was outsourcing the functions to Florida-based Centrex Revenue Solutions. The work has been sent to an overseas contractor with offices in India and the Philippines and to centers in Colorado and Ohio. AMR cited the costs of business in California as a primary reason for the move, which seemed to be accepted as a valid excuse by county leaders.

Layoff notices were given to 210 billing employees and 48 customer service representatives in October. The job cuts were supposed to take affect for one group last Dec. 31 and a second group next week. Some people opted to pick up their final checks New Year’s Eve, and those who remained became Centrex employees on a temporary basis Jan. 1.

Centrex notified the county this month that “due to changing business needs and operational concerns,” the Salida office needs to stay open until Aug. 14. Subtracting those who quit after the October layoff notices, 156 employees who carry on the work will be let go in August.

The layoffs will be final and the affected workers are not entitled to bumping or transfer rights, Centrex said. None is not represented by a union.

Employees have said they received conflicting information about severance packages and health benefits. They said their jobs have been extended to correct the mistakes of their overseas counterparts who are learning the work.

After what I’ve heard from the remaining staff, anyone who has taken a ride recently with AMR might want to closely examine their billing statements.

Bee staff writer Ken Carlson can be reached at kcarlson@modbee.com or (209) 578-2321.

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