Editorial: Expanding medical services to Dinosaur is step in the right direction
At the extreme western edge of Moffat County sits Dinosaur, a tiny town that lays claim to only 315 souls, according to numbers from the 2016 census. It’s remote, and it can be difficult to get into and out of — particularly during the winter months, when the snow is flying. And, we would imagine, its residents often feel isolated and perhaps forgotten by the rest of the county.
With those facts in mind, we were frankly thrilled last week to learn that Memorial Regional Health will soon be expanding its services to include local access to primary medical care for Dinosaur residents, as well as rural residents who live around the town.
“We are happy to be able to help out the town of Dinosaur with their medical needs,” said MRH CEO Andy Daniels.
In case you missed the story, Moffat County and MRH recently entered a lease agreement by which a portion of the county shop in Dinosaur will be repurposed into a medical clinic, offering primary care to residents one day per week.
The area to be repurposed — which Dinosaur Mayor Richard Blakley said was formerly used as a medical clinic — has been essentially vacant since Rangely District Hospital discontinued ambulance service to Dinosaur some five years ago.
Soon after, the town contracted for ambulance service from Gold Cross, in Vernal, Utah, Blakley said, but the primary care clinic never returned.
Not until now.
MRH is covering the costs of repurposing the area into a medical clinic, and renovations are expected to take about 60 days.
This is good news for a couple of reasons.
First, geographically speaking, Moffat County is the second largest county in Colorado, and Dinosaur sits alone at its farthest western expanse. The notion that, for the past five years, Dinosaur residents have been required to travel an hour or more to reach a primary medical care provider is unconscionable. Medical care is something people need when they need it, not when it’s convenient or expedient, and the last thing an ailing person wants — or needs — to do is set out on an hour-long car trip.
Second, it’s a matter of inclusion. Beyond the obvious health care concerns, Dinosaur resident are Moffat County taxpayers, and as such, they deserve fair and equitable consideration in terms of essential services, such as medical care. And tax money aside, these folks are our friends, our neighbors, our fellow residents. And in an area as remote and potentially inhospitable as Northwest Colorado, it just makes sense that we stick together and help one another out.
Finally, we’re impressed by the innovative and cost-effective plan MRH and county officials devised to address the health care deficiencies in extreme western Moffat County. Using an existing structure — particularly space that had formerly been used as a clinic — is a smart move. Rather than taking on the expense of a new construction, the clinic will instead utilize unused space to meet a real need.
So, our hats are off to both MRH and Moffat County officials for recognizing a pressing need and taking innovative, cooperative steps to meet that need.
“I think it was a really good deal,” said Moffat County Commissioner Don Cook. “They (the town of Dinosaur) sometimes feel left out on the decisions we make, and this is a good step in the right direction.”
We couldn’t agree more, Commissioner Cook.