TMH trying to sell houses

MRI feasibility also under microscope

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The Memorial Hospital board members agreed at Wednesday night's meeting to sell 10 properties along Russell Street and designate the proceeds to a building fund for a new facility.

Ten of the hospital's 13 properties will be offered to real estate agents to sell, but occupants will have the right of first refusal.

"At the time, it was the right decision to find an answer to replace the hospital's existing facility," Administrator Randy Phelps said of the hospital's purchases in 2001-02. TMH officials originally wanted to construct a new facility at its current site. That plan since has been abandoned; in its place is the option of building a new hospital at one of three sites on the west end of Craig.

When TMH purchased the homes, homeowners were offered a bonus of $5,000 over the fair market price, Chief Financial Officer Roger White said. The properties were purchased for a total of $1.7 million, he said.

"I have no idea until we sell the properties if we will gain or lose anything (financially) from this," he said.

Revenue from the sale of the homes -- the selling process, which will be placed in the hands of real estate agents -- will go toward the building fund. It totals $465,346 as of Wednesday.

Board members also approved a temporary agreement with Northwest Health Specialists for the option to refer patients for Magnetic Resonance Imaging services. Phelps estimated the temporary switch could earn the hospital up to $30,000 a month.

Hospital officials want to purchase the building and its equipment, which include an MRI machine. Moffat County commissioners have required that hospital officials seek a new appraisal for the site, which will take about two months.

Board member Brenda McKey said the interim agreement could be a good learning experience for the hospital to gauge whether the switch will generate extra revenue for the hospital.

Patients previously were referred to one-day-a-week services from a traveling MRI van.

"The temporary situation is a excellent way for us to find out if this will work before we contract into it," she said. "I don't see any negatives with it yet. We have to try it and see if it will be a money maker."

McKey said she wanted to determine whether a permanent MRI machine would offer better-quality scans and more availability to patients.

In other business, board members:

n Approved advancing Dr. Joel Miller from provisional to active staff; and approved privileges for Dr. Michael Crane to provide obstetric care.

n Approved COPIC Insurance as the hospital's liability insurance carrier effective until Oct. 1, 2005.

TMH formerly held Farmers Insurance, but the carrier dropped its health care liability coverage, Phelps said.

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