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Memorial Regional Health: Clearing up misconceptions

We want to thank Melvin and Joan Snyder for their comments published on June 19, 2019 regarding the proposed Providence Recovery Solutions (PRS) initiative tentatively to be located at the 775 Yampa Ave. building. We also have received multiple inquiries from community members via social media and e-mail. The purpose of this communication is to address a few factually inaccurate comments and concerns circulating through various media outlets. We can only address such comments as they pertain to MRH.

First, this joint venture is not “an out-of-state firm that has no ties to our community.” This is a public-private partnership where MRH retains 50% ownership of the new corporate entity: PRS. The corporation was formed in Colorado along with two other private investors (an individual physician who was born, raised, and has current family ties to this part of Colorado and another company). This new entity and public-private partnership has contracted with an out-of-state organization to help manage the services for a limited engagement and time.

Second, the information relating to, “(no-one) knows what exactly are the plans to “revamp” it to meet the needs of this out-of-state company,” may have been missed by the community. The Craig Press published the redesign of the building several months ago. The link to that publication is here: https://www.craigdailypress.com/news/memorial-regional-health- moffat-county-school-district-provide-answers-treatment-center/. The building renovations are currently projected to exceed $1.1 million and are required to meet state and federal regulatory compliance.

Third, we appreciate the comment regarding the use of the old Russell Street hospital. In terms of the old hospital, before MRH decided to build the new medical office building (currently under construction), the old hospital building was fully evaluated in terms of its ability to be salvaged by an outside engineering firm. Sadly, the building is beyond its past useful life, renovation costs are prohibitive, and the engineering consultants recommended that the building be demolished. It is clearly not suitable for continued public or private use.

We have also receive communications not associated with Melvin and Joan Snyder’s letter to the editor. We hope that some of the answers below will help further explain and clarify a few misinformed themes circulating in the community:

Public Comment: MRH is collaborating with Ascension who is the largest not for profit health care system in the United States, operating in 21 states and the District of Columbia.

This statement is incorrect. Ascension Recovery Services is not affiliated with or part of Ascension Healthcare. Ascension Recovery Services is located in Morgantown, West Virginia. Ascension Recovery Services is engaged on a limited basis by PRS to help start and manage the facility. They are not owners or investors of PRS.

Public Comment: No plans have been announced related to MRH’s old hospital located at 785 Russell St.

In 2016, MRH contracted with an engineering company to do a complete mechanical, electrical and plumbing analysis of the old hospital building prior to beginning the construction of the replacement medical office building attached to the main hospital campus. As previously stated, MRH received a recommendation that the building was not salvageable and should be demolished. This is what will ultimately happen to the building. The land will be re-zoned residential per city requirements and either donated or sold.

Public Comment: The care (drug rehabilitation) begins with an isolation period in a, drug, alcohol, and sober living facility. For a 30 or 60-day period, the client is provided with only very limited access outside the Treatment Center. Clients may get some limited privileges, like time to go to a park.

PRS is not a detox facility. The comments above reflect care at a detox facility. A detox facility offers significantly different services as compared to a sober living facility. PRS provides two distinct services: (1) intensive outpatient therapy along with medicated addiction therapy (MAT) that is closely monitored by medical providers, and (2) a sober living component. The entire purpose of this project and endeavor was to meet a community need pertaining to drug and alcohol substance abuse and recovery. While it is true that the “sober living” component will attract patients from outside the area, they are not relocating here permanently. These patients are coming to Craig for a respite to heal. They are not mandated by court order to achieve any treatment goals. The bulk of the services will be serving local community members on an outpatient basis. These are your neighbors, your friends, and people who live here in Craig and around Moffat County that are in need of PRS services.

Public Comment: How much has been budgeted for renovations and where does that money come from?

Estimates for renovations are currently around $1.1 million. It is anticipated that a private developer will provide funds to renovate and sub-lease the building back to Providence Recovery.

Public Comment: When does the hospital plan to have the treatment center open and operating?

We assume that this comment is based on the confusion surrounding the Ascension Recovery Services and Ascension Healthcare entities. Providence Recovery has not set an exact timeline yet for being fully open. Opening is based on how fast renovations can be completed. As a conservative estimate, eight to nine months to be fully operational is a workable timeline allowing for licensing and renovations.

Public Comment: Where does the money from Providence Recovery go?

Assuming the joint venture is successful and profits exists beyond what is necessary to put back into the organization to grow it, pay for expenses and capital improvements, like any other business, profits return to the investors.

In summary, the underlying purpose of this project was to address a local community need pertaining to drug and alcohol substance abuse and recovery. While it is true that the “sober living” component will attract patients from outside the Moffat County area, they are not relocating to Craig permanently. Indeed, these particular patients are using PRS to heal, and are not required by legal process to seek such assistance.

Most importantly, the majority of the services provided by PRS will be utilized by local community members on an outpatient basis. Hopefully, your neighbors, your friends, and community members who permanently live in Craig and around Moffat County will seek to heal in this fashion.

Memorial Regional Health administration

Memorial Regional Health: CNCC claims are inaccurate

On Friday, June 14, the Craig Press article “’Future of Craig’ meeting seeks change at Colorado Northwestern Community College” attributed statements made by CNCC Vice President of Student Services John Anderson that are factually inaccurate. MRH contacted Mr. Anderson and CNCC President Ron Granger on June 13, 2019 when the online version of the story was released. MRH requested either Mr. Anderson or President Ron Granger issue a public statement correcting these inaccurate statements, and we are extremely disheartened that neither chose to do so.

MRH attempted to work with CNCC Craig beginning on October 5, 2018 to provide education to a cohort of MRH students desiring to become nurses. We received communication on December 5, 2018 that CNCC was unable to accommodate our requests for a Fall 2019 start for our students, leaving a gap in their progression of education. It was at that time MRH reached out to Colorado Mesa University for assistance with program support for the Fall of 2019.

As it pertains to the summer courses — courses occurring right now — and Mr. Anderson’s comments, MRH received an email from Keith Peterson, CNCC Vice President of Instruction, dated February 27, 2019 that stated, “regarding summer classes, I don’t think we have the capacity to add those to our summer schedule as we just don’t have the teaching staff during that timeframe to accommodate.” We were also clear with CNCC that we did not want “online” courses. MRH responded to Keith Peterson, “OK, we will look elsewhere, thank you.”

It was not until May 7, 2019 in a meeting at CNCC with Keith Peterson, John Anderson, Kathy Powell and Erica Yantzer that CNCC said they could offer the classes. However, their offering contained a requirement that Human Anatomy and Physiology II, Pathophysiology and Psychology were to be on‐line courses. By this time, MRH had already contracted with CMU to offer the classes in an instructor‐led format. It was this same meeting that CNCC finally came forward to offer a proposal for a fall‐start for our nursing cohort. Additionally, MRH also has copies of e‐mail communication sent by Mr. Anderson to our nursing students requesting that they tell us that they did not want to attend Colorado Mesa.

It is extremely disingenuous to imply CNCC offered exactly the same classes here in Craig and that MRH arbitrarily decided to send those students out of our community and county. The decision was not made in haste. Ultimately, MRH made the decision based upon what would provide the best educational opportunity for these students.

Further, Mr. Anderson’s statement that “I have students who come to my office crying because of that decision,” is false. Our MRH nursing students have unequivocally refuted this claim following their review of those comments.

We are deeply disappointed that the CNCC Leadership Team did not correct the inaccurate statements in the Craig Press article concerning the educational opportunities presented to MRH nursing students throughout this entire process.

Memorial Regional Health administration

Melvin, Joan Snyder: School board suggestions

What a shock when we read the article in Wednesday’s newspaper about the School District “giving” 1.6 million dollar piece of property to MRH. And the fact it has been in negotiation for 2 years!

Only a couple years ago the Moffat County School District was short of money. At that time the decision was made to eliminate one of the elementary schools. We understood the reason for this action was to make the school district financially sound. When the school board was unable to make a decision for them. Why was the Yampa Building included in this decision, if the purpose was to close an elementary school? How does it make sense that now, they can afford to “give” it (the Administration Building, which is the old Yampa School) to another Moffat County tax payer supported entity?

This transaction will decrease the Moffat County School District’s equity value and increase the MRH’s equity value. Would it be better to stay with the original plan and sell the Yampa Building for the appraised value of 1.6 million so that money could be used to help educate the students of our county?

If there is a need for a drug rehab facility, why not save the taxpayer a good deal of money that will be spent on demolishing the old hospital building and use it for that purpose. That certainly does seem to make more sense than turning over a historic building to an out of state company, which the community knows nothing about. Who knows what exactly are the plans to “revamp” it to meet the needs of this out of state company. Also, apparently they are going to bring in patients from out of town to support this business. What happens if they don’t have enough to support their plan and we are then stuck with a building that has been “revamped” to who knows what. The fact that this is an out of state firm that has no ties to our community makes a person wonder what they really have planned. 

God bless the board members’ hearts and we hope they will make the best decision for the tax payers of Moffat County and the historic old school building. We really hope they are not persuaded by smooth talking lobbyists who care nothing about the history or future of our community. 

Anyone who is interested in this issued is urged to attend the meeting of the Board of Education on June 20 at 4:00 at the CNCC Campus. We need people to come and voice your opinion.

Melvin and Joan Snyder

Ernie Day: Greedy

Ashamed that our City has got so greedy to charge just to see the Whittle the Wood.

Some of us don’t care about the band. Just want to see the carving and enjoy the food, etc. But charging to get in and then charge again to buy food, etc. It is like Walmart charging you too shop their store.

The vendors lose out too, cause after paying $10 to get in, then you pay for food, and if you on a budget not much to spend if you want to buy something from a vendor.

Just plain old greed!

Ernie Day

John Pogline: Loopholes

A person can make all the excuses he can and find all sorts of loopholes, but if you make your living in marijuana sales, whether medicinal or recreational, or whether you own the business or work there, in all honesty it’s a conflict of interest. As a public servant, your position should never be questionable. 

John Pogline

Gar Williams: Fiduciary responsibility

The “Historic Donation” article in June 12’s newspaper brings up several questions in my mind.

The Moffat County Board of Education Superintendent and the Memorial Regional Health Director have agreed to have the School Board sell a property with an assessed valuation of $1,641,664 or more to the Memorial Regional Health for nominal fee, $10 is the fee quoted to me by Superintendent Ulrich.

The article states MRH plans to use the property to “invest in” Providence Recovery Services of Colorado, a for-profit drug rehabilitation facility which has stated they will import the majority of their clients from 2 or more hours away from Craig.

As I understand Colorado Statutes, the Board of Directors of an organization as a group and individually each has a fiduciary responsibility to the institution they serve to do what is best for the operation of that organization.

The Board of Education, which has a fiduciary responsibility to the taxpayers and students of Moffat County to get the best return for the taxpayers and students in the disposal of any “excess property.”

Is the School Board getting the best return on the taxpayers investment by selling a piece of real estate valued by the County Assessor, at over 1.6 million dollars, for $10 cash and a promise of a 33% discount for future services which amounts to $218,126.19 (for school nursing support), over a period of only three years?

Is the School District getting 7.5% of the assessed value of the School District’s Building really the fiscally responsible thing to do?

Do any members of the School Board stand to benefit from giving the building to MRH for a “nominal fee?”

Why doesn’t the School Board lease the property to Providence and require Providence to modify and maintain the facility at Providence’s expense as part of the lease? This would provide the School Board with an additional funding source other than taxes.

Is the City Council doing what is best for the taxpayers and residents of Craig by approving a drug rehabilitation facility in a neighborhood that will lower the residential property values by up to 20%?

As a tax-supported entity, will MRH, which is cutting back on finishing its medical office building because of insufficient funds, going to the County Commissioners again for “supplemental funds” to cover cash shortages for building and investment expenses?

Will the School Board be coming to the taxpayers for more tax money in the near future?

Will the City of Craig follow its Zoning Ordinance to protect property values?

Do any members of the Planning and Zoning Commission, or City Council stand to profit from the construction or remodel of the Administration Building?

This looks like the taxpayers will come out on the short end of the stick again! If the school admin building was back on the tax rolls “we the people” still lose money because the property taxes will take decades to equal what the building originally cost us.

Gar Williams

Bill Hesselgren: Museum, library have so many benefits

Voters elected months ago not to fund the library and museum. Why they were joined at the hip, so to speak, as one issue for voters puzzled me. They are not the same thing, and deserved individual consideration.

Commonality is their educational merits, but the approaches are different, the users are different, and their purposes are different. Let’s consider them different and take each to task. 

The library is like the rest of these facilities across the country and is suffering from the shifted paradigm of what the users want. Almost everything in print is available these days on a smartphone or tablet, so why go to a building full of paper versions of internet of Kindle staples?

Almost everything is key.

Modern information and popular writings are digitized because it’s easy and pays. Source books for study are not so accessible, and out of print books and essays are rarely available. Because libraries link with each other, these rare or obscure books are available on request in our library. Another benefit is the social side of library visits. You can meet like-minded individuals or maybe better yet, readers with different views that can maybe, just maybe, broaden your insights. Children can experience the fun of books with tutors’ aid, expressively reading and responding to questions or even facial expressions. Can’t get that online. 

That the libraries must evolve is obvious because of the advent of the liberation of people’s thinking thanks to Apple, Kindle, and the like. How to serve the needs, but mostly the desires and keep the interest of the community has yet to be resolved, but I’m confident it will be solved, hopefully before our library closes. 

The museum is another matter. We have a good one that represents an attraction to visit with hands and eyes on history. We have a lot of significant history represented in our museum, and thanks to good management, it stays pertinent, providing a backdrop behind our current culture. The roots of the community are proudly on display for our perusal, and these beginnings and developments are foundations of our present and future. Unlike the library dilemma, the museum needs to continue in its role to bring the past to physical light. It was unfortunate that voters could not choose to support the museum separately from the library or vice-versa. 

I along with my wife would like to challenge everyone who voted to support the library and museum to make a donation to whichever one or both you must have thought worthy. We do not want these entities to become an historical footnote, and neither do you. 

Bill and Patricia Hesselgren 

Paul James: No conflict of interest

Since my election, and to be more pertinent, since the last city council meeting where I made a motion to begin the process to put recreational cannabis on the ballot for November, my “conflict of interest” has been thrown around a lot, mainly by the same people who have been trying to prevent our success since we began this process.

When we were running our petition, before I was elected to city council, the owner of the Craig Apothecary offered to give me a significant portion of the business (at no cost to myself), should we be allowed to open for recreational sales. At the time I of course agreed to the offer. However, since being elected, I have now declined the same offer, because I don’t want to engage in any sort of conflict of interest whatsoever. In short, the most I stand to gain is a job, whether that be maintaining my existing employment, or the ability to look for a new job while still being able to live in my hometown. Anyone can reach me at 970-701-1114 with questions or comments.

Paul James

John Kinkaid: Fire board concerns

In all of the time that I’ve lived in Moffat County, I’ve never known how much money the fire department brings in and spends. All taxing entities have an obligation to keep voters informed on their finances. That’s true of the city, county, MCSD, CNCC and Craig Fire/Rescue.

Craig Fire/Rescue board meeting minutes are inadequate, as far as financial information goes, but I went to the State’s Department of Local Affairs website and found the annual budgets and the independent financial audits. You can find them here: DOLA, Local Government filings page. https://dola.colorado.gov/dlg_portal/filings.jsf?id=64047&category=5&jfwid=9kFxLc75nWb_LRcs68Z40zYGzEjOmskBEb3LS8Se%3A0

The audited financials for 2017 (latest year available) show that the department brings in just over $1 million per year. I never knew that. In 2017 Craig Fire/Rescue spent $200,000 on administration, $104,000 on the firefighters’ pension fund contributions and $340,000 on fire fighting and hazmat. They also had other expenses like $6,200 on fuel.

In 2017 Craig/Fire Rescue held $632,000 in cash and cash equivalents. And in that same year the pension fund had an $3.8 million balance. It looks like the pension fund will pay out $265,000 in benefits in 2019 according to this year’s annual budget.

I really believe that the fire board should adopt bylaw changes that would pair the fire board elections together with either city elections or general elections. There would be greater voter participation and more interest in department affairs and decisions. I would also urge CFR to post the budget and financials on their website. It’s our tax money and we should know how it’s spent.

This is in no way an attack on the work of our fire department. It’s just good government.

John Kinkaid

Andy Daniels: Be part of the solution

I write to you today with an impassioned plea. Having now been in Craig for a number of years, I (as probably you have also), heard the calls that “someone should do something about (insert topic)”. Even as people in the community try, others seem to do nothing more than complain about those that try to make changes.  It is about our future as a community that I write to you today.

We all know that by 2025 (or perhaps even sooner), major changes are coming to our community. We also know the political environment in Colorado has taken a shift this past year with much of the attention elsewhere while at the same time negatively influencing the potential of our current energy based economy.

I submit to you today that as it pertains to the economic development of this community, that someone has to be you, others, and me in a coordinated approach to cajole, demand, or force CNCC and the CCCS System or others to actively participate and in fact drive the economic development of our community.  

The growth mindset, leadership, and forward thinking strategies needed for CNCC to become a vital economic driver in our community is simply absent. We cannot, and should not tolerate this any longer. We have to insist that CNCC (or someone else), be at the forefront of our needs. We need to be coordinated, consistent, and assertive until we see the positive changes and leadership occurring. It is one of our best hopes to make Moffat County strong, and our economy work into the future.

To that end, my Board of Trustees have asked me to help coordinate with other community leaders a meeting to lay out a strategy, form a working sub-group, and put the pressure on the local and state leadership. We need your help. You may be receiving this communication via either Andrea Camp or Dave Fleming who have agreed to assist with “spreading the word.” It is time to be mad, take that anger, funnel into a constructive efforts, and push for the changes we need. Will you join us?

You are cordially invited to an old-fashioned community leadership discussion regarding CNCC and economic development. At that meeting we will share a few misunderstanding about the powers (or lack of powers), that the local board of control has, share strategies for contacting local and state leadership, and discuss a few events around housing and how to coordinate strategies.

Please plan to attend. The meeting will be held at the Moffat County Pavilion at the Fairgrounds beginning at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 12. Feel free to pass the word to business and community leadership. 

Thank you for your time and attention.

Andy Daniels