A Steamboat Springs doctor persuaded hospital board members that a $41,000 investment in start-up equipment for spinal surgery could result in large financial returns.
And the board of trustees for The Memorial Hospital took the bait at Wednesday night's meeting.
"(The equipment) will pay off in two weeks," said Dr. Henry Fabian, who also works a half day each week at the Craig hospital. "I see 10 to 15 patients from Craig each week in Steamboat. I just did four surgeries in Steamboat today and two of them were Craig patients."
Board members unanimously approved equipment that will allow patients to have spine surgery locally without the hassle of travel. Board members Sue Lyster and Ron Danner were absent from the meeting.
Having the equipment locally is an important aspect in the surgery's recovery factor, said Judy Connor, materials management supervisor for TMH.
Patients shouldn't be subjected to a long drive after having the procedure, she said.
"People were going to the Eastern Slope to have this done," Connor said. "It's a great opportunity for a small town to have such an expert surgeon. This makes it so Craig people don't have to travel."
The board's allotment covers the cost of a spinal frame to stabilize a patient's back, a headlight for surgery and instruments needed to complete the procedure.
Board members also unanimously approved spending $105,000 for a replacement ambulance. TMH's older ambulance will be forwarded to Maybell Ambulance. TMH officials said they have secured a $85,000 grant and also are looking for a $14,000 county contribution for the purchase.
In other business board members:
n Approved a total of about $36,000 for equipment used for obstetrics including an EKG and fetal monitor.
n Approved by a 3-2 vote to fund a new position for TMH Foundation.
TMH will fund a grant writer position for the new hospital for six months or until TMH board members choose a building site for the new hospital. Don Myers voted against the request and Gene Bryant abstained.