'A terrible disappointment'

Void left by Valley View Manor's imminent closure may not be filled until 2005

Planning the future of Craig's only nursing home will have to wait until after it closes, which is set to occur within the next two weeks.

"It was a terrible disappointment that we couldn't come together as a community," Randy Phelps, administrator of The Memorial Hospital said of not being able to continue care at Valley View Manor and instead having to re-open it.

The nursing home is scheduled to close July 8.

Phelps, at a meeting Thursday regarding Valley View Manor, said it could be January 2005 before a new nursing home could be established in Craig.

The hospital administrator went through his dealings with Mariner Health Care as he did at the hospital board meeting on Wednesday.

"It has been extremely difficult to engage Mariner in any meaningful conversation," Phelps said of the prolonged period of time it took for his calls to a vice president of the company to be returned.

Mariner, which had agreed to work toward a deal with TMH to hand over historic financial and administrative papers, sent a confidentiality agreement, which Phelps said he received Thursday.

"There are signing problems with the letter," Phelps said. "There is no way anyone around this table would sign it."

The two major problems that Phelps gleaned from an initial reading of the contract is a two-year prohibition on hiring any current staff if the home were to re-opened before that time period expired.

"I don't know the rationale, I don't know if it is even negotiable," Phelps said and went on to say that the contract was a general one and did not specifically apply to this situation.

The second issue that was of concern was the prohibition to generate reports based on any of Mariner's data.

"That is problematic because, besides policy makers, we had talked about showing it to not-for-profit and private, for-profit groups," Phelps said of financial data that might be received from Mariner.

The group also discussed possible ways to fund the re-opening of the nursing home.

Darryl Steele, Moffat County commissioner, said he thinks the best way to fund a new nursing home would be through a countywide mill levy.

"I think that the community would be behind it," Steele said. "If it were put on the ballot for a tax increase, I think it would pass."

Steele said he has gotten more calls on this issue than almost anything else since he came into office in January.

Craig resident Wes McStain said he thought enough money might exist within the community for the purchase.

McStain's mother is an Alzheimer's patient who would have to be moved to a facility in Grand Junction.

"It is just a human tragedy," McStain said. "(My parents) have been married for 67 years. Dad lives with me. Put yourself in that place -- where would you like your spouse deported to?"

Turning the home into a veterans' nursing home and moving the nursing home to the hospital once the hospital moves to its new site were discussed as options for Valley View Manor.

Phelps and the rest of those present agreed that the first step was to receive results from the Quorum study on re-opening the nursing home, which will start tomorrow. Quorum, a hospital management group that oversees TMH, is conducting a financial

and feasibility study on Valley

View Manor.

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