Craig The fate of Craig Medical Center, the family clinic operated by Dr. Thomas Told until his recent departure to Denver, hangs heavy on The Memorial Hospital, officials said Tuesday.
During the commission meeting that morning, TMH Board Chairman Melton Sullivan and George Rohrich, TMH chief executive officer, explained their position in regard to the hospital acquiring the clinic or the possibly 2,500-person patient load.
The men said there is no done deal.
The hospital and the clinic have a "verbal contract," Rohrich said, though he did not give an idea about what the verbal agreement entailed. He added that the deal may not work out.
At the moment, Sullivan said the hospital is in a "gathering of information" stage. TMH officials signed a confidentiality agreement with Told, so they could not give specific terms involved in any existing deal.
Barry Bergman, TMH chief financial officer, also is looking through the medical center's books to determine its financial assets, Sullivan said. The business' last valuation was in 2007, which is too old to use.
Sullivan said the first step toward any deal, however, is to recruit a family doctor to staff the clinic.
No deal can be done without a doctor, he said, adding that the notion that TMH now is responsible for all the clinic's former patients is not true.
Although hospital officials are "very concerned" about what might happen to the clinic's patients - especially given the fact that Moffat County had too few family doctors before Told left, and now one fewer - the clinic's patient load is beyond the scope of what TMH can do, Sullivan said.
The situation is tough now because Told was unable to recruit a replacement physician before his departure, Sullivan said.
The hospital knows first hand how tough it is to recruit physicians, he added. It took three years to find a new general surgeon. Although TMH has been able to recruit a new family doctor - Dr. Andy Hughes, who plans to arrive in February - he is expected to be an employed TMH physician.
Sullivan said it is not known whether Hughes will take over Told's practice.
If Hughes is not interested and there are no other doctors coming to town, Sullivan said TMH is not looking to buy office space. If the hospital purchases Told's clinic, it will be because there was demonstrated value and a community interest.
However, Sullivan stressed, the primary concern is what will happen to Told's former patients.
Moffat County residents have to be able to see a doctor, he said, and TMH will do what it can to make sure that happens.
Told was unable to be reached for this story, but his wife, Molly, said she had not heard "these kinds of things" from hospital officials before Tuesday. She added that the medical center was moving forward as though Hughes planned to continue the practice upon his arrival.