Hospital Board elects to leave question off November ballot |

Hospital Board elects to leave question off November ballot

Renovation questions still remain unanswered

Ryan Sheridan

The Board of Trustees of The Memorial Hospital (TMH) voted 5-2 not to put a ballot initiative for the November 2001 election on the Moffat County election register.

They had considered asking Moffat County voters to fund the construction of a new hospital, saying the current hospital is outdated and does not meet federal regulations.

After an involved discussion at their meeting Wednesday night, most board members said it was impossible to organize a complete proposal and successfully communicate that proposal to the public in time for the election.

The deadline for registering a ballot question for this November’s election is Monday.

“We don’t have answers to critical questions that impact the project, and until we have those answers, we can’t present a plan to the public or how much the cost would be,” board member Ron Danner said. “We have to be able to put together a package and explain it completely to the public, and the amount we would ask for.”

“There are just too many variables to make the decision now,” board member Sue Lyster said.

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TMH remains committed to building a new facility, and in April passed a resolution to that effect, Danner said. One impediment to moving ahead with the ballot initiative is the possibility the hospital could get alternative funding that could preclude the necessity of tax support for the construction.

The board is in the process of creating a Hospital Foundation, which would work to obtain grants and other funds for construction of a new facility.

Other reasons the question will be delayed are because of the time necessary for a fund-raising effort be effective, land acquisition needs, keeping the integrity of facility advancements, understanding changes recommended by the hospital staff, and the time needed for public education efforts, said hospital administrator Randy Phelps.

The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Health Care Organizations has said that they would work with the hospital if TMH’s plans for a new facility were adjusted, and not arbitrarily shut the hospital down.

“We need to keep [the Joint Commission’s requirements] in the back of our minds, but a little bit of that pressure overall has been lessened,” Phelps said. “I believe they’ll work with us if we deviate [from the current facility proposal] as long as we communicate.”

If alternative funding becomes a reality, construction of the new facility could still begin 2002.

A report concerning alternative funding will be completed by Sept. 15.

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