TMH finalizes plans after clinic talks falter

The Memorial Hospital has definite plans for its newest physician now that talks to lease office space from the Craig Medical Center have ended.

Moffat County residents may begin making appointments today with Dr. Andy Hughes, a family practitioner, in advance of his office's opening Monday at the TMH MRI Center at 651 Yampa Ave.

The hospital's plan for Hughes came after negotiations with the Medical Center fell through Friday. Before that, the two parties had a verbal agreement for TMH to lease the clinic's main floor for three years.

Dr. Thomas Told, a longtime Craig resident and physician, operated the Medical Center for about 30 years until late last year.

Mollie Told, Thomas' wife and acting Medical Center administrator, said last week clinic officials closed lease talks with TMH because of financial reasons. The hospital did not offer a "fair price" for the space, she said, particularly because TMH also wanted use of all the clinic's equipment and supplies.

Mollie also said she was frustrated that hospital officials backed out of a prior verbal agreement to purchase her husband's practice, including its patient records and equipment.

However, word of any agreement to purchase anything related to the Medical Center caught hospital officials by surprise, said Samantha Johnston, TMH service excellence officer.

Hospital officials made two agreements, she said. One was a verbal commitment to lease some of the clinic's space and the other a signed confidentiality contract that covered negotiations.

"We were always open to discuss all of the options, but we never made any promises to buy anything," Johnston said.

Hospital officials always thought that purchasing downtown office space or a local medical practice would interfere with future plans to build clinical offices next to the new hospital, Johnston said.

Given that, any deal to buy the Medical Clinic would be unlikely.

"If we were going to sink money into real estate, we would sink money into land at the (new) hospital site," she said.

Mollie could not be reached Monday to respond to Johnston's comments.

Johnston said hospital officials regret they couldn't broker a deal with the Medical Center that would make it easier for the clinic's estimated 2,500 patients. However, the hospital's duty is to be a partner in providing the area with doctors and quality health care, not to ensure that private businesses remain open.

Johnston added that TMH partnered with the Medical Center to help recruit a new doctor who could take over the existing practice, but that didn't work out. The hospital also offers to pay a signing bonus to any new doctors hired by other clinics in Moffat County.

"The Tolds' business is the Tolds' business just like any other business," Johnston said. "In the end, the real responsibility we feel is to bring additional doctors to the area."

Officials recognize that Hughes cannot meet the entire community's health care needs, Johnston said.

"Right now, we're doing everything we can financially afford to help the community recruit doctors," she said. "Right now, we look at it like we can't afford not to."

The MRI Center, which will be renamed TMH Medical Clinic, will become the home of the hospital's new doctors.

Johnston said TMH interviewed another family doctor earlier this year, and officials expect him to make a decision about moving to Moffat County by early March.

In the meantime, getting Hughes started is priority No. 1.

"Our biggest goal is to move forward quickly to provide this community with what we promised it," Johnston said. "To bring a new family doctor to the area as soon as possible."

Two physician assistants also will help Hughes see patients - Neilene Folks, a longtime county resident, and Cinde Porter, who recently moved to Craig with her husband.

Hughes' office will accept all patients and all insurance types.

All residents will be registered as new patients because of Medicare requirements, Johnston said. People should expect to pay new patient fees, which they would with any new physician, that cover the additional time Hughes will spend with each patient discussing their medical history.

Collin Smith can be reached at 875-1794 or cesmith@craigdailypress.com

Comments

Globe 5 years, 2 months ago

Great article Tax. This is a must read. I did not know things were as bad as this in healthcare. It is interesting to know we are building a 50 million dollar building while our federal government is going to enact so much change. Sam, while I really appreciate your recent post, because you communicated more on that post than in the last six months, you stated that the hospital expects to see more money from medicare and this article and dozens of others say that while that may be true last year it has been forecasted for years that medicare is goiing to change, and hospitals, especially small ones will see big cuts in what they get paid. If medicare changes as this article sugggests it most certainly will, how will our hospital survive when it isn't even making it now?

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SamanthaJohnston 5 years, 2 months ago

Globe:

Thank you for your post. Medicare changes on the horizon are certainly disconcerting for everyone in healthcare.

I would like to discuss this more, and I bet there are many others who share your same concerns.

I plan to publicize a community meeting date in the next couple of days and I would love for this to be a piece of the topics we discuss. I can gather more details and have a better big picture look at this by that time.

I'm also curious as to thoughts about better communication of issues. I know that those of you who read the forum are good consumers of the information that I post here, however, I am curious as to your thoughts and ideas about how to better educate the public on an ongoing basis about topics of interest. We have zero public attendance at board meetings and often times if we place informational advertisements in the media they draw much criticism about the costs to run those ads. Posting here is an option, but there are a finite number of people who read this forum.

The administrative team discussed hosting a monthly brown-bag luncheon that would be informal, open to the public and designed to discuss topics of interest to the community. Is this a viable idea?

I'm open to your suggestions about better communication.

Thanks,

Samantha Johnston

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Patrick Germond 5 years, 2 months ago

I would like to point out that I have called Sam on more than one occasion. She has always done the right thing and taken care of the problem. I would like to thank her in public for that, Thank you Sam.

Taxslave, I have been hearing about that all day. Thanks for the link.

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grannyrett 5 years, 2 months ago

Samantha--Would it be possible to post some of this on the hospital's website? There have been times I have gone there in hope to see an update on the construction of the new hospital. That would be nice to include on the website too.

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SamanthaJohnston 5 years, 2 months ago

Grannyrett:

Absolutely we can post informational updates about the new hospital online. We just had our photo gallery expanded so we could post construction photos on an ongoing basis.

I will work on this right away.

Samantha Johnston

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Globe 5 years, 2 months ago

Sam,

As always, you are a credit to your organization. Thanks for the information.

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SamanthaJohnston 5 years, 2 months ago

All:

As promised, we have set a date for the public presentation with regard to hospital finance.

The meeting will take place from 6:30 - 7:30 p.m. Monday, February 23 in the Platinum Room located in the basement of the Visiting Nurse Association.

The purpose of the meeting will be to provide a general basic overview of hospital finance and how hospital accounting works. In addition, attendees will hear a brief presentation about Medicare changes on the horizon and how they may/may not impact TMH. A question and answer session will follow.

Attendees should bring any questions that they have. If the question cannot be immediately answered, it will be researched and answers provided publicly.

For questions or more information, call me at 826-3109 or email samantha.johnston@tmhcraig.org Light refreshments provided.

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SamanthaJohnston 5 years, 1 month ago

grannyrett and all:

We have made some progress with regard to posting new hospital photos on our web site. If you log on to www.thememorialhospital.com, you will see a tab across the top navigation bar that says "New Building Project." If you click on that link, it will take you to the photo gallery we have set up tha currently has a total of nine photos in it.

Our web site programmer is currently working to expand photo posting capability and add photo galleries so we can showcase different phases of the project. In addition, he will be adding a space for me to type narrative explaining where we are in the process. We will also add any pertinent articles or press to that location as well.

It's not completed, but it's a start. Check it out and stay tuned for more photos and updates.

Sam

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grannyrett 5 years, 1 month ago

Thank you, Sam. When one can't be there to see this happening, it's great to have pictures. See you this summer.

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