Our view: Hospital deserves another chance

After years of planning, plotting and posturing, officials from The Memorial Hospital in Craig have taken dramatic steps forward in the last year, steps that bring the hospital and community closer to the reality of a much-needed new health care facility.

In summer 2006, officials from the hospital and Colorado Northwestern Community College agreed upon a land deal for the proposed new facility. TMH officials also have given the green-light to infrastructure design and construction work.

And, in the latest example of TMH taking a serious approach to completing a new hospital, officials commissioned a financial analysis to learn how much money they could borrow for the construction of a new facility.

What they learned was this: $20 million. Encouraging news.

This news came on the heels of the hospital learning that a national health care organization approved TMH's accreditation with flying colors.

For a hospital that has been hit with its share of public relations setbacks in recent years -- some justified -- these two items must come as welcome news to the hospital and public.

The editorial board commends TMH for the aggressive steps it's taken in the last several months. We don't believe it a coincidence that these actions began around the same time that Chief Executive Officer George Rohrich began work.

In 10 months, Rohrich has not only spearheaded the hospital building efforts, but also restructured administrative staff and hospital priorities. The end goal to these actions -- building plans included -- is to improve TMH service and patient care.

It's for this reason that the editorial board encourages local residents who travel outside of the city, outside of TMH for their healthcare needs, to find their way back home.

While we believe the hospital still has wrinkles to smooth over in its operation, the board applauds TMH for its effort and thinks it deserves another chance with local residents.

Consider the following: In March of 2006, things couldn't have been worse for TMH. Its former chief of staff had gone off on a tangent, accusing the hospital of all sorts of incompetence and skullduggery, plunging the hospital into inner turmoil and an internal investigation.

Although none of Dr. Michael Crane's allegations were proven true, the public relations damage had been done. Enter Rohrich and the monumental task of overhauling not only the operation, but also public perception.

With the new CEO came an emphasis to be one of the best hospitals in Colorado, to continually recruit quality physicians and to bring service and care levels up to a stratospheric level.

Which leads us back to the need for a new facility.

The current Russell Street hospital is clunky, antiquated and ill-suited for the needs of a modern healthcare facility. We believe TMH has done its best to maximize use of the building, but what was good yesterday no longer is today.

A new facility would not only cement the hospital's evolution, it also would signal a new beginning. A new beginning residents would be wise to take notice of, and support.

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