Doctor presses support for current hospital location

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The same night hospital board members set a date to visit potential building sites for a new hospital, they heard the arguments of a local doctor, who said a new hospital should be built where the current hospital sits.

At The Memorial Hospital Board of Trustees meeting Wednesday, Dr. Greg Roberts outlined economic, accessibility and patient care benefits of staying at the same site.

One of the economic benefits, he said, was to help maintain the viability of downtown Craig, which is located about three blocks from the current site.

"A lot of employees of the hospital use downtown businesses," he said. "When big businesses move out of the downtown area, we've all seen towns where the downtown gets

boarded up."

Roberts said points have been made on how the hospital could save money by going to another location but said specific costs of different sites have not been finalized, adding that savings could result from building at the current site for several reasons, including:

  • Continuing to share space with the Visiting Nurse Association.
  • Using power and gas lines already in place and ground that has already been graded.
  • Moving major pieces of equipment like CT scanners 50 yards as compared to a few miles.

Convenience for both doctors and patients should also be

considered, he said.

"People need to be able to go to the hospital from their doctor's office," said Roberts, who owns a clinic about two blocks south of TMH. "Putting it miles away makes it more difficult and frustrating for patients."

The convenience of having the hospital in near doctors' offices means doctors spend less time on the road travelling between the two places and more time with patients, he said.

"Right now people in Craig don't have to wait long to see a doctor in their office," he said. "That could change if the hospital is moved."

He also said he makes frequent trips between the hospital and his office everyday.

"Right now, I make two to three trips to the hospital per day," he said. "Patients will be in the hospital longer and won't get as good of care if the hospital is moved."

Roberts noted what could be perceived as a conflict of interest on his part at the end of the meeting but re-emphasized that he came before the board to speak out on what he thought was best for the community.

A board member asked Roberts if doctors at TMH have been surveyed as to where they would want a hospital.

"I haven't heard but I think it would be appropriate for you to do that," Roberts said.

Board member Sue Lyster said the reasons outlined by Roberts Wednesday were the reasons why the board originally decided to build at the same location.

"A lot of the items you mentioned were reasons we considered when we first moved forward," she said. "The reason we are exploring other locations is because of public opinion. Until tonight, we haven't had people from the other side stand up a say they want it at this location."

If the costs are comparable between the new sites and current site, Roberts said he thought the hospital should be built at the current site.

"If the cost is equal or a little bit more to be here, there are some darn good reasons to be here," Roberts said.

Board members did not hold a discussion regarding the issue after Roberts' presentation.

But later in the meeting, board members set a Feb. 15 date to visit other potential construction sites in Craig for a new hospital -- one of those being 15 acres of land west of Craig that has been offered by the Colorado Northwestern Community College Board of Control.

"The purpose is to physically visit the sites and get a better feel of where they are," said board member Ron Danner.

The reason board members are investigating other sites is because of a public outcry in several meetings last fall about building at the current

site.

An informal group of residents attended several meetings saying they thought more space could be purchased for less money at

potential sites on the outskirts of Craig.

Hospital board members, who previously were ready to move forward with building at the current site, where they had purchased about $2 million worth of surrounding property, said last fall they would listen to the residents' concerns and explore other potential sites.

Despite the debate on where to build, The Memorial Hospital Foundation continues to raise funds in the community and board member Jack Bonaker reported last night that the foundation has raised $250,000 thus far for a new hospital.

At its meeting Wednesday, the board of trustees also heard an annual review of the infection control program by Patient Care Planner

Beka Warren.

  • Heard an annual patient safety report by Performance Improvement Director Betsy Bair.
  • Heard a safety and human resources key result area report by Human Resources Director Alice Rigney.
  • Heard a regulatory, facilities and community health report by Administrator Randy Phelps.

Josh Nichols can be reached at 824-7031 or jnichols@craigdailypress.com.

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