Official promotes hospital plan

To the Editor,

In the Thursday, Oct. 14, 1999 edition of Craig Daily Press a front page article appeared which was entitled, "New hospital in works for Craig;" a subtitle read "TMH Board hires group to survey community support for new facility." The headline and sub-title are not accurate and I believe that I owe the hospital's owners, the people of Northwest Colorado, a full explanation.

The text of the article which follows the headlines is well written and accurate. I hope Daily Press readers did get past the headline and understand the article. I need to emphasize that the Board of Trustees of the hospital has not made any final decisions with respect to the future facilities for the community's hospital. Further, the board has not hired any public opinion survey firm to poll the community, although this has been identified as a part of the plan. The board is engaged in the planning for a process which they believe will enable them to make the best decision about the future health care facility needs for our community. They have had a preliminary meeting with the Board of County Commissioners, and the facility needs were discussed and commissioner opinions were voiced. The outcome of our planning effort will be a decision to either: 1 ) do nothing; 2) engage in a limited or extensive remodeling project; or, 3) build a partial replacement hospital. The board has made no final decision on funding or scope of any project. They have not identified any specific sites for a partial replacement facility. The possibility of multi-agency or multi-program partnerships have not been explored and are still viable and exciting possibilities. Therefore, it is profoundly premature to suggest that a "new hospital is in the works for Craig."

The facility issues that confront the leadership of the hospital are probably not apparent to the patients and visitors of the facility. An engineering study completed in February of 1998 revealed that there were $5 million in replacement systems required over a 10-year period for critical heating, cooling, air handling, plumbing, electrical supply systems' emergency power and life safety systems (fire alarm, fire suppression, etc.). Further, the core patient care areas were designed over 20 years ago now when the focus of hospital business was on hospitalized inpatients. Now health care has changed from an inpatient care orientation to outpatient care. Our facilities are not designed to efficiently provide focused outpatient services, such as "same day surgery, outpatient minor procedures, wellness screening." This creates operational inefficiencies and patient inconveniences. The Board of Trustees is examining the best and most cost effective methods to address these facility issues. They are also very mindful that the ideas and opinions of the community members are critical to the decisions made with regard to the future of the hospital. That is why the first step in this process will be to consider an opinion survey of the community.

I hope this letter will clarify the process upon which the hospital trustees are embarking. Their target is to come to a decision by the middle part of next year; however, the path to that decision may involve twists and turns that are not visible at this time that might accelerate or postpone that time schedule. Certainly, if any member of the community has a specific idea on the future of the hospital facility, I invite you to write, give me a call or e-mail me at nwcomed@amigo.net.

Randy Phelps,
TMH administrator

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