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.”