Our View: County should support VNA, Haven | CraigDailyPress.com

Our View: County should support VNA, Haven

The Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association is asking Moffat County commissioners for a token monetary contribution as a show of support for the VNA’s acquisition of the The Haven.

The Haven is an assisted living facility for the elderly in Hayden. The VNA wants to take it over and eventually expand it to include some sorely needed services: a senior daycare center, Section 8 housing, transportation between Craig and Steamboat Springs and a hospice center.

That’s the kind of vision that will ensure that we maintain a high quality of life for all Yampa Valley residents. But Moffat County commissioners are balking at the prospect of paying $2,500, especially after some local providers of elderly care complained that the contribution would be tantamount to helping The Haven compete against private facilities.

We disagree. Currently, no private nursing homes or assisted living facilities in Moffat County accept Medicaid except The Haven. That’s the very reason such a facility is needed in the Yampa Valley.

If a local private business decided it could find a way to serve Medicaid patients and still make a profit, The Haven wouldn’t necessarily stand in its way. The local business would have a competitive edge in the marketplace by the simple virtue of being located in Craig. But until that happens, do local businesses expect Medicaid patients to just tough it out?

The Haven is a good example of government filling a need that private enterprise can’t, or won’t. VNA board member Pres Askew wrote commissioners that it’s not the VNA’s intention to compete with private facilities, “but rather to assure that there are sufficient options for caring for our aging population over the next 20 years.”

Moffat County commissioners already have written a letter of support for the acquisition, which creates a puzzling scenario. If they support the acquisition, by logical extension, shouldn’t they contribute the token amount of money necessary to ensure that it succeeds? How can they say they support it and not give the VNA the financial backing it needs to secure grants down the line?

That’s the thrust of VNA’s request. Originally they wanted much more — about $50,000. But they scaled back the request to $2,500; a symbolic amount to prove to granting institutions that local government is on board. The city of Steamboat Springs and Routt County have given $50,000. Moffat County is being asked to give much less, even though about 20 percent of the residents and the staff at The Haven are from Moffat County.

Commissioners-elect Saed Tayyara and Tom Gray have indicated they don’t think the $2,500 contribution fits within their view of the role of local government. That’s disappointing, but the ball is really in Commissioner Les Hampton’s court. Commissioner Darryl Steele doesn’t support the $2,500 contribution, but Commissioner Marianna Raftopoulos does. Hampton is the swing vote and one of his last meaningful votes as commissioner could swing the deal one way or the other.

We hope he gets a chance to vote on the issue before the new commissioners take office because it looks as if their minds are made up already. And we hope that Commissioner Hampton considers that $2,500 is a pretty small price to pay to support an endeavor that could make a difference in the lives of the elderly for years to come.

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