WATCH: Longtime Queens Hatzolah Coordinator Yitzchok Rowe Submits Resignation – Read Why


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The long time coordinator and President of Queens Hatzolah announced his resignation on Wednesday night.

Mr Yitzchok Rowe made his remarks at the Queens Hatzolah annual Chanukah party, where close to 200 members of Queens Hatzolah and their wives had gathered.

Rowe stunned the crowd as he laid out his reason for the resignation: Hatzolah would be billing health insurance companies.

Many neighborhoods of Hatzolah in NY have recently started billing insurance, joining Hatzolah is other areas that already do that – such as Lakewood, Monsey and others.

Rowe said that the Mora D’asra of Queens Hatzolah, HaRav Kalman Epstein, Rosh Yeshiva Sha’ar Hatorah was against this decision to bill insurance as well.

Rowe claims that the organization will take a 180 degree turn and change its character after starting to bill.

His entire speech follows in the attached video.

Queens Hatzolah was founded in 1978 by Mr Dov Rowe, father of Yitzchok Rowe. In 1979 Queens Hatzolah began transporting patients by station wagon and in 1981 purchased their first ambulance. From these humble beginnings, they have grown into their current multi faceted organization with top-of-the-line training, equipment, and ambulances.

YWN’s multiple attempts to Queens Hatzolah for comment went unanswered.

(YWN World Headquarters – NYC)


  1. I am not in the know about specific branches of Hatzoloh, but as far as I can tell, they are among the most critical charitable causes in Klal Yisroel. The extremes of mesiras nefesh are the norm for its members and volunteers. They do not need my haskomoh. But these tzaddikim are the volunteer exposed end of a structure that involves huge expense, heretofore borne by the fundraising efforts that have become household words. The Hatzoloh dinners, auctions, and other events are well attended. Yet, the capacity of the Klal to support this cause is limited. I am not whiz in business, but the reality is that the services can be, at least in part, compensated by the insurances that many have. Why should such billing not be done? Why should billable services be provided for free? Yet, once this step is taken, the full tzedokoh identity of it will suffer.

    I cannot blame Mr. Rowe from bowing out. Similarly, I cannot blame the organization from seeking the monies it desperately needs from billing. Once it becomes a business, things change. I wish there was a better way to resolve such issues.

  2. Maybe I am missing something, but what is wrong with collecting from insurance companies. My family has needed Hatzalah 2 times. I was more than happy to have my insurance company send them money.

  3. Billing turns Hatzalah into one big buisness . Once this happens who knows whats next.

    And whos going to run Queens Hatzalah now that hes gone ?

  4. Billing doesn’t have to turn the organization into a business. If I understand correctly they collect what they can from the insurance companies as would any other ambulance service. These are funds they (each and every branch) desperately need. If they bill the deductibles to the patient (which I believe is not the plan) then it’s an amazing source of additional funding without overburdening the locals.

  5. HATZALA is the only all volunteer orginization, once they start billing , they will have many paid employees , why exactly should members go out of their way to help the higher ups in hatzalah make money , and once you start billing , you can not fundraise a penny anymore.

  6. As one who lives in Lakewood and received a bill from MONOC for the paramedics Hatzoloh sent the same day a Shnorrer letter was received from Hatzoloh, there is something very wrong. There are people making money off the system and that is wrong. Either it is a volunteer service deserving of our support or they should not do any fundraising.

    Rabbi Kalman Epstein is 1000% correct. This is not the right direction for this premier organization.

  7. Hatzolah is run by a bunch of 80 year olds, with zero understanding about public relations.

    They had an opportunity to inform every member of every community what they did. Instead, they look like thieves in the middle of the night.

    Sorry for being blunt. My brother is a member in Boro Park. But this is what this looks like.

  8. Omg. I got a bill a few weeks ago in flatbush. They took my father in for chest pains. My insurance company paid them. Didnt cost me a nickel. But why do i need to donate a penny to hatzolah now?

  9. If Hatzolah has a shortage of funds, let them fundraise. You see the campaigns in YWN raising millions of dollars in 24 hours. All the time there are the chesed fund and charity campaigns. I think this is a big fat mistake

  10. Rav Kalman Epstein is a gadol. He will be on the moetzes soon. Hope he leaves queens Hatzolah. Rowe is right. I can just see the newspaper headlines in a few years.

  11. I dont get why if Hatzala think its okay to bill ,then why not tell the community , if its not a big deal then why hide it ?

    And from what i heard , Rowe practically ran QUEENS HATZALA

  12. Wow. I am shocked to hear this news. Many do not know Mr Rowe and his family personally (or they think they know) but they are a paradigm of chessed in the Kew gardens community . Most of their chessed work is even done stealthly. Yeshivath shaar hatorah was helped our numerous times by Mr Rowe and family. Their shaychus to the Rosh Yeshiva reb Kalman Epstien Shlita is something to envy. Many many ppl think they know the Rowe’s – you have no clue. They Are all about helping other people. ZERO monetary gain. ZERO fame recognition. And unfortunately ZERO appreciation from many. All ppl want to do is to knock and scream. Because they are Jealous of the way Mr Rowe go on calls just to help people. And don’t tell me it’s for hock – because at 2am and 3 am there is no hock and I know personally that they go on such calls. Mr Rowe – who will lead The queens community now ?? Who will be at wh helm now that you are gone ?? I share the saddness that the queens community is feeling now, that they are going to be run by unfortunately some bureaucrats ? Hopefully not!! Please ensure they will be in good hands- Bc with you and your father at the helm- queens was the best and safest hatzolah org around. Best of luck to you – and your family . Only hashem knows how lishmah you did it and will repay you accordingly imyh .

  13. Harav Kalman Epstien shlita is one of the gedolei hador. If he says no billing – then no billing. It’s very scary situation- much diff then monsey/Lakewood billing. Central is doing a diff style – something that should be reconsidered ….

  14. Billing is only the start of a very slippery slope. I get the fact that they need a ton of money to properly run the incredible, massive organization Hatzolah has become. But the next thing you know, insurance companies are telling them what to do, and they have to start justifying things to insurance. This really does turn it into a business, which would be a very unfortunate thing for this incredible volunteer organization.

  15. I think everyone has missed the point over here. Its. It’s not an issue of billing vs not billing. I myself dont understand what is the downside of billing (I’m a member in an area that bills). Rather I think the issue here is that they seem to be going against thier daas Torah. That is a reason to step down, taking a stance for Kavod Hatorah.

  16. a few points;
    to bill or to keep the status quo is not a black and white issue, one can imagine good arguments on both sides
    the fact that some branches have tested the idea, and most dont even know means that for the most part it doesnt directly affect the consumer or patient
    you have the right NOT to call hatzoloh and whoever is at the helm of the org. has the reponsibility to make decisions as you do .
    mr rowe is a dedicated public servant and the baton will pass as it always does and every change of the guard takes a little time
    lastly this wasnt a major shock they have been fighting for months

  17. There is clearly a very strong argument in favor of billing insurance. People pay 20,000 to 25,000 in premiums a year in insurance premiums for the purpose of health and emergencies. It is hard to argue that Hatzalah should instead collect their very large burden on the community if they can tap into this. We have many other organizations that can make use of the tzedakkah that everyone beautifully shares. It’s nice to feel we are getting things for free but in the end someone is paying. Most organizations try to take whatever they can from government funds or other sources. If they have a deficit, then they can clearly ask the community for funds. The biggest advantage we have of hatzalah is their quick and professional response, not the fact that our insurance is or is not charged. That being said like all organization they need controls in place that they remain community oriented and avoid treating it like a business.

  18. @yup I’m sorry? You have no idea details. As a matter of fact reb kalman shlita IS being quoted correctly – and this is his project so YES he wants the truth out. Please refrain from saying that gedolim don’t wanna be quoted for askanus regarding the klal .

  19. @shmuel37 yes Mr Yitzchok Rowe ran Queens Hatzolah practically singlehandly. He ran Kew Gardens, and will hopefully stay running it. What should i say? People are jeoulus of such special people. What a shame! I think that Mr Rowe should return to queens hatzolah- and the COMMUNITY should force out the other hot shots who think they know better…..

  20. With regular doctor visits, I believe the provider may not legally forego the copay from the patient. Will this be any different if the billing plan goes throug?

  21. I have some knowledge of what is going on here. I will try to address some of the comments here.

    First of all, Hatzolah has consulted their Vaad Horabanim, which includes the likes of R’ Dovid Feinstein shlit”a before considering to bill insurance. Harav Kalman Esptein is a posek that Yitzchok Rowe spoke with, however he is not on the Vaad Horabanim of Central Hatzolah. I was also told from reliable sources, that Harav Epstein is being misquoted here.

    Hatzolah did not take the issue of billing lightly. There were lengthy discussions with the Vaad Harobonim, attorneys who are leaders in this industry, all of the neighborhood coordinators and many more people. In today’s day, the cost of providing the community with the best care possible is extremely prohibitive. A regular ambulance today cost more than $200,000. The community that Hatzolah serves is expanding as well and expanding communications cost a lot of money. These are just 2 small examples.

    There are many coordinators in Hatzolah, and ultimately all – except Yitzchok Rowe – agreed to move forward with billing.

    Billing will only cover some of Hatzolah’s budget, but the community should still donate to this holy organization. It is only with our donations that Hatzolah can use the additional money from billing to bring the best service to everyone.

    Many of us pay thousands of dollars in insurance premiums. Our doctors bill our insurance, the hospital bills our insurance, rehabs if needed bill our insurance, our pharmacy bills our insurance – but Hatzolah can’t???!!! How does this make sense? In almost all those cases the money does go to someone’s pocket. Not by Hatzolah. The money goes directly back into the organization that is helping you.

    Hatzolah has worked very hard to make sure that the culture doesn’t change. The members aren’t even involved in the billing process. They will never ask you for an insurance card before (or even after) treating you. The information will be obtained from the hospital that a person is taken to.

    Yitzchok Rowe is a tremendous Baal Chesed. However, there are four other coordinators in Queens Hatzoloh. Among them, and the dedicated membership they will never let their community down. Change happens in Hatzolah, but the mission is too important to only be supported by one man.

    We have trusted Hatzolah for the last 40 years, I think we should trust them for the future. Hopefully Moshiach will come and this story will just be a story of the past.

  22. Billing insurance companies is not codt free.
    A. Who will collect the insurance info and patient demographics?
    B Who will pay for and maintain the billing software?
    C. Even if they farm it out to a billing service, all billing is now electronic. Who will enter the data so that it can be transmitted electronically to the vendor?
    D. If they handle it internally, they will have to hire a staff to deal with correcting denials .
    E. They will have to purchase an accounts receivable system. How will payments be posted , and by whom. How will deductibles get billed, and by whom?

  23. Medical necessity is a determining factor in whether an insurance company (if covered) or Medicaid will pay for transport. Health insurance policies that cover transport will not cover a home call for Yankey’s runny nose, or Ruth swallowing a penny. For Medicaid and Medicare patients the ambulance service must meet their ambulance requirements and certifications. Just something to think about.

  24. Just a point of information: my wife was taken on a very short ambulance ride in Nassau County by the Nassau County Police ambulance. IIRC, our insurance paid them around $1300. So we’re talking big bucks when it comes to insurance reimbursements.

  25. In 5 years down the road if you won’t have health coverage you won’t be treated! That’s a big problem.
    Like in Mitzrayim the hunger years made you foget the good old times.
    Leave it as a volunteer self funded organization.

  26. Let me correct an egregious error. Rav Kalman Epstein did NOT prohibit billing. He left it up to a vote by the five Queens Hatzolah coordinators who manage the organization, Mr. Rowe being one of them. Mr. Rowe was outvoted and on principal felt he had to resign. No more no less. And the billing is generated by Central Hatzalah, not from the individual branch.

  27. I didn’t see attached video (my TAG filter blocks it). However, billing aside, going against the posek of the organization, is reason enough for Mr. Rowe to want to disassociate himself.

  28. I see apushatayid didn’t read my comment. Rav Kalman did NOT, I repeat, did NOT pasken against billing. He allowed the coordinators to vote on it. So stop with the phoney frumekeit.

  29. @yoyoyo you make me laugh at how ignorant you are. Yes, the rosh Yeshiva reb kalman DID prohibit billing the way they are doing it. I have inside scoop and know details. Please don’t act like you know it all… let’s daven that this is the right decision …

  30. About the hiring staff and dealing with denials.

    That is what billing agencies do, so the EMS agency does not even have to deal with this one bit.

    Regarding fraud.
    What fraud is being alluded to?
    Billing for transports that never occured?!
    Why resort to that?

    Regarding changing the character of the organization?
    Well this has no impact on anything other than collecting fees and less fundraising. So why now should it have any impact on the responders or patients?
    No one is ‘making’ money that they didnt ‘make’ until now. There were funds coming in from the community, did that have an impact on the responders? Why should it now?