The Memorial Hospital board members, from left, Todd Jourgensen, Don Cook, and TMH Chief Executive Officer Chris Smolik look over paperwork at the monthly meeting Thursday night. Among other discussion points was the approval of a site lease to build and operate an outpatient dialysis center on the property.

Photo by Andy Bockelman

The Memorial Hospital board members, from left, Todd Jourgensen, Don Cook, and TMH Chief Executive Officer Chris Smolik look over paperwork at the monthly meeting Thursday night. Among other discussion points was the approval of a site lease to build and operate an outpatient dialysis center on the property.

The Memorial Hospital looks into bringing dialysis center to Moffat County

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In other action…

At its monthly meeting Thursday night, the board of trustees for The Memoral Hospital:

• Approved, 6-0, medical staff privileges as presented by Chief of Staff Jeff Womble

• Approved, 6-0, a proposal to arrange a collaborative meeting with board members from Yampa Valley Medical Center. One of the topics of discussion will be to increase Flight for Life services in the area.

• Heard monthly reports from CFO Bryan Chalmers, CEO Chris Smolik and Mike Mullins, regional vice president for Quorum Health Resources

• Accepted the resignation of board member Tinneal Gerber. Gerber said she chose to resign to better focus on her job as finance director for Moffat County School District

“I’ve really enjoyed working with the board,” she said. “I’ve put a lot into it, especially in the last year, but the reward has been huge, and I think it’s such a great thing for our community.”

Board member Forrest Luke was unable to attend the meeting.

For patients who require treatment for their medical conditions multiple times each week, having more options close to home can mean the difference between life and death. And if the process goes according to plan, people in need of one very important service soon may be able to find it in Craig.

The board of trustees for The Memorial Hospital voted unanimously Thursday night to approve a site lease for an outpatient dialysis center on the hospital’s land. The proposed 5,000-square-foot building, likely located on TMH’s southeast corner, would provide dialysis services for patients with kidney ailments.

TMH CEO Chris Smolik was approached by Sanderling Healthcare, of Nashville, Tenn., to bring the center to Northwest Colorado. The terms of the proposal would allow Sanderling to lease the land and build and operate the modular structure at their cost, a total that has not yet been calculated.

TMH would put about $150,000 toward the utility infrastructure in this plan, an investment in what Smolik referred to as a “needed service.” Also, the space, which would offer eight stations for dialysis treatment, would be available as a separate area for patients needing chemotherapy infusions.

“Right now, we have to walk them through the hospital, which isn’t good for immunosuppressed patients,” Smolik said.

The board anticipates the addition of the dialysis center as a boon for the area in multiple avenues. Besides being a relief for patients who must travel thrice weekly to receive dialysis in Denver or Grand Junction, a center in Craig could be a draw for more people to move to Northwest Colorado.

Additionally, with its close proximity to Colorado Northwestern Community College, the site could provide extra training for the school’s nursing program.

Doctors Jeff Womble and Scott Ellis both were in favor of bringing the center here.

“The people who need dialysis are tied to those machines,” Ellis said. “I think it’s a great idea that shows how committed the hospital is to the community.”

Representatives from Sanderling already have checked out the site and have estimated that they would need about 30 regular patients to make the center profitable.

TMH’s count shows about two dozen people within Craig who would benefit from having dialysis available.

“That’s not even counting Wyoming, the western part of the county, Rio Blanco or Steamboat that could come here,” said Jennifer Riley, TMH chief of organizational excellence. “The day we met with this group, I got a phone call from a person who heard it was something we were exploring, and they said, ‘Please, please, we need this here.” So there are people out there.”

The timeline for the dialysis center, pending final approvals from TMH’s loan lender Prudential and backer Housing and Urban Development, is to have it built by the end of this year.

“It’s modular construction, we have a sketch of how it will look, and it will all be hospital quality,” Riley said. “In Joplin (Mo.), when their hospital was destroyed (in 2011, by a tornado), this was the same group that built (a new one), and it all went up in months.”

Andy Bockelman can be reached at 970-875-1793 or abockelman@CraigDailyPress.com.

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