M. Randell Phelps: Administrator, The Memorial Hospital

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I am compelled to correct information that was reported in the Dec. 2 Craig Daily Press and statements that were directly attributed to me. The two places where I was quoted are not accurate and I did not say them in the manner quoted. These mistakes were in the article entitled, "TMH getting less money from county."

In the first instance I am quoted as saying that the Moffat County Care Clinic has a budgeted annualized operating cost of $560,000 for 2005. This is grossly inaccurate and I never said this. What the reporter had asked me was the estimated amount of all charity care that the hospital expects to provide in 2005. The reporter then asked about the Moffat County Care Clinic and remembered the loss of county support in 2004 for the operation of that service. Then I said that, indeed, the hospital had received a $50,000 grant in early 2004 that provided funding for the clinic. There has been no conversation at all by the board or management to curtail the clinic's operation. For the year-to-date in 2004 through October, the clinic expenses are $47,429. When the grant proceeds are added to the reimbursement from Medicaid, the Colorado Indigent Care Program, and collections from patients, the Care Clinic operation is financially sound. The reporter did not inquire about the financial status of the Care Clinic. When the subject of the possible closure of the Care Clinic was discussed one year ago, the Board of Trustees was resolute in their commitment to sustain the clinic. The Care Clinic is budgeted at $78,847 in expense for 2005. The increase is due to patient volume increases expected in 2005.

The second place where I was misquoted was the paragraph in which the reporter asked me to comment about the options that the hospital could consider if additional tax support was needed from the community. Where I am quoted as saying "we certainly always want to be not-for-profit" is accurate. However, there is an addition to the second quoted section of that paragraph that was not said. I never said "so they can ask for a tax to help fund the new hospital." That statement is absolutely contrary to the thinking of our board. A decision was made by the board, City Council and County Commissioners in August to fund the replacement hospital with current operational margins created by the hospital enterprise. This is why the board is modeling the debt service payments each month and taking an amount of money from the hospital's cash reserves each month that is equal to the projected debt service payments and setting it aside in a Restricted Reserve Account. The reporter and I did discuss this planning mechanism in detail, although it was not reported in the article. In short, neither the board nor management have any intention of asking for any additional tax assistance from the people of Moffat County, under any guise, to support the construction or debt service on the anticipated new hospital building. The financial projections must be able to demonstrate the hospital's ability to make the bond payments on its own in order for the project to be finalized.

It is very important to note that, at the board meeting during which the reduction in county funding was discussed, there was not one mention or suggestion that the hospital should change its commitment to the health and wellness of the community.

The board is dedicated to fulfilling the hospital's mission of providing emergent and urgent care to all people of our service area, regardless of the patient's ability to pay.

Respectfully yours,

M. Randell Phelps,

Administrator, The Memorial Hospital

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