Deann Anderson, left, an administrative assistant at the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association, and Gisela Garrison, VNA Health Center director, look over paperwork Thursday at the VNA’s Craig office. The VNA plans to expand its main floor to include more exam rooms to meet community needs.

Photo by Shawn McHugh

Deann Anderson, left, an administrative assistant at the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association, and Gisela Garrison, VNA Health Center director, look over paperwork Thursday at the VNA’s Craig office. The VNA plans to expand its main floor to include more exam rooms to meet community needs.

VNA to expand into old hospital


The primary concern for the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association, a public health organization, is meeting community needs.

Although the option of purchasing The Memorial Hospital’s old campus with a $1 million federal grant has fallen through, Suzi Mariano, VNA public information coordinator, said the organization will focus on the immediate future: an interior remodel that will double the VNA’s number of exam rooms.

For about 60 years, The Memorial Hospital occupied the north end of the building at 785 Russell St. In recent years, the VNA rented out the south side of the building.

When the hospital planned to move to its new building west of Craig, the VNA began to look at occupying some or all of the old hospital campus.

With a remodel in its future, the VNA will need extra space to use while exam rooms and administrative space are under construction.

At its monthly meeting Wednesday, the hospital board approved, 5-0, to offer the VNA a lease for requested additional space of 2,000 square feet at a cost of $5 per square foot and additional fees for maintenance and insurance.

The space used to house administrative offices for the old hospital currently are empty.

The only thing that separates the VNA from the expansion is one doorway and the drafting of a lease.

The VNA’s potential use of the old hospital space will not interrupt any care in the current TMH Medical Clinic and Valley Health Center, which are using rooms in the old hospital campus, as well.

TMH board member Don Myers said the 2,000 feet of potential new VNA space was a sensible step to take for both entities.

“It makes a lot of sense in my mind they use this space,” he said. “This is the logical thing for them to do.”

Mariano said the VNA will wait until a rental agreement is laid out before moving ahead with the project, but the 2,000 square feet is necessary to relocate several offices during the remodel.

“We’re aiming to have a decision on the lease agreement in a few weeks,” Mariano said. “That would be the first step in starting the remodel. I can’t see many other things that could hang us up.”

The expansion will increase the number of exam rooms in the VNA from six to 12.

The project is funded by a $300,000 grant from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, designated for improvements to community health centers such as the VNA.

A federally certified community health center is one that provides care to the “medically underserved,” according to the Health Resources and Services Administration.

The centers provide a large percentage of its care to the uninsured, low-income families and rural areas, the HRSA reported.

Mariano said the remodel is necessary to meet those needs in Northwest Colorado.

“We’re pretty tight in there right now,” she said. “We need to expand and serve the needs of the community.”

The VNA is unsure as to how the additional lease will be funded and is looking to approach foundations and other grant opportunities to seek additional money, Mariano said.

But, the new lease also could be beneficial to the VNA’s business plan.

Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements from the federal government are based on operating expenses, and as the VNA grows physically, Mariano hopes those reimbursements will match their growth.

“It could mean increase in reimbursement, but might not,” she said. “It all depends on how much money Medicare and Medicaid have at the time. I hope that reimbursement matches that so we don’t lose money on it. That’s the way it should work.”

Still, despite the recent grant denial and an uncertain future, Mariano said the remodel is an exciting addition to the community.

Though the organization does not currently have the funds to purchase the old hospital building, she said it’s time to move on from 2009’s hopes.

“That was an opportunity we had in the past, but now we’re just going to focus on the immediate future and getting the needs of the community served.”


westslopeguy 7 years, 3 months ago

Thanks for the sales pitch Megan, I didn't know that's what these pages were used for but it is good information for the uninsured and under-insured to know. I am employed, middle-income, (+- $40K/yr), and I am fortunate enough to work for an employer that values the health of their team members. Ergo, he provides 80% of my monthly premiums. Being in a "small group" my 20% amounts to $264/mo - that translates to $1,317 per month to allow me the privilege of walking into a pharmacy or making an appointment with a doctor to then allow me the privilege of paying more for the medications required to treat whatever ailment the independent doctor, (under today's medical system) finds. It should NOT cost $16,000 a year just for insurance IN CASE he gets catastrophically ill, in which case the private insurance company will likely refute payment.

That amount is more than housing for most of us "middle income" folk, and I'm just considering the premium, not even my co-pay for meds and office visits - which I don't incur, because I can't afford them after paying $264 "just-in-case." I opt to not take daily meds prescribed, because I A) can't afford to buy them EVEN WITH my limited copay of $60/month, and B) it's a calculated risk I take that I won't have another heart attack and have to file bankruptcy again as a result. What the heck, let the public pick up the tab. I sure can't afford the $76,000 again.

I am not proposing a government takeover of my health care. But when it comes to the alternatives for ''most'' of us, (and I consider $40,000/year "most" of us), something's got to change. Your advertisement for "affordable" insurance won't cover those of us with health history, as I'd have to waive pre-existing conditions or buy a rider that would cost more than the calculated risk aforementioned. I'm just glad to know that you're willing to pick up the $76,000 tab for my next heart attack, (with inflation, it's probably more, but since you're paying, why diddle with figures?). For that I thank you. By the way, what will you tell my children if I don't survive it?

Thanks for the advertisement, do you collect finder's fees or commissions?



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