New hospital in works for Craig

TMH Board hires group to survey community support of new facility

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Building a new hospital is still on the drawing board, but an action plan has been put into motion at The Memorial Hospital (TMH) in Craig.

This is the first step in a possible rebuilding or remodeling process. The action plan has been approved and the plan will allow a consulting firm to survey the community and decide if a tax increase to build a new facility will work.

"We approved an action plan and will first engage in a survey to determine community support," hospital Administrator Randy Phelps said. "We are targeting to get results by the end of January."

Goals of the first portion of the developmental plan with the consultants are to determine if a difference exists between a remodel and a replacement project in community support, to determine the level of general support for either initiative and have a consultant provide results and advice on closing any gaps.

The second part of the plan is to schedule a meeting with the Moffat County Board of Comm-issioners and TMH Board to review detailed elements of either the remodeling or replacement plan and associated costs to be presented by the American Health Facilities Development committee.

Goals for this portion include identifying project elements in detail and arriving at cost projections for the options.

Reviewing elements of both plans and going over costs with commissioners is slated to be completed during the last quarter of 1999.

To defray some of the costs associated with the plans, the third step in the process will be to develop financial planning. With this step, TMH wants to develop a five-year financial projection using expertise of the hospital officials and a bond consultant. They will also consider financing options and develop a plan to fund such a project by using bonds, leasing the building, using a foundation fund development and hospital revenues in excess of expenses, and if feasible use part of the community tax base or other county support. Officials want to have step three completed by the end of May, 2000.

By July 1, 2000, the hospital board will make a decision on what the next steps will be.

Phelps said remodeling and correcting code problems in the existing hospital would cost about $8 million while a new facility, built from the ground up, would cost between $9.3 million and $9.8 million, exclusive of land and equipment.

According to Phelps, if nothing is done, Craig would be without a hospital in 20 years because of the lack of services TMH would be able to offer and the building would be outdated.

TMH has $5 million in credit worthiness, meaning it has access to those funds. Other ways of obtaining necessary funding include revenue bonds, direct subsidies and taxes.

According to Phelps, more than 30 percent of the population in the community would support a tax to remodel or rebuild a new facility while 16 percent are strongly opposed.

The month of August at TMH showed 739 adjusted patient days. This includes inpatients and outpatients and is considered an impressive number by Phelps. In August 1998, there were 595 adjusted patient days and year-to-date, adjusted patient days are 133 days ahead of budget.

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