SAMANTHA JOHNSTON: The need for a new hospital is very real |

SAMANTHA JOHNSTON: The need for a new hospital is very real


A new administration.

A new way.

A new vision for a hospital in our community.

There’s no doubt about the fact that the current board of trustees and administration at The Memorial Hospital has a lot of baggage to carry from the past and the mission to get a mill levy increase approved for a new facility has been and continues to be an uphill challenge. This comes as no surprise.

We knew what we were in for, but we strongly believe that this is the right timing, the right project and the right group of people are on board to take the hospital forward in a better direction.

The facts are pretty clear – TMH cannot build a new facility without taxpayer support. Without a new facility, code upgrades and renovations will have to happen at an exorbitant expense not to mention the costs that come with closing a hospital facility for several months to make the required changes.

The impacts are large – on staff, on the hospital’s financial health and on the community members and visitors who depend on our services every day.

We want to recruit and retain more doctors. We want to provide the services and the surgeries in Moffat County that we currently must send people out of town to receive. Our doctors will tell you how important it is to upgrade our facility. Dr. Sisk has said it himself, “I want to be able to continue to provide the same level of orthopedic care that can be expected in a big city. We are only limited by the current facility.”

General Surgeon Dr. Jeff Womble said it on the radio this week, “If we want to recruit young doctors who will stay here for 20 to 30 years, we have to provide an adequate facility.”

The need is not manufactured – it is very real and our doctors live it everyday. If you ask them, they will list the reasons why a new facility will mean better healthcare and more doctors and specialists.

Every time a Craig resident travels out of town for medical services, we feel that impact as well.

Each time a patient makes the round-trip journey from Craig to Steamboat, they spend an average of $12 to $15 on gas alone. If they make that trip twice a month, they’ve spent $24 to $30 in one month. The average homeowner will pay about that same amount per year for a brand new medical facility.

The benefits extend beyond monetary value. Elderly and sick patients heal better and have improved outlooks when they are close to home. Traveling 90 miles or more round-trip for health care simply isn’t right. We can do better in Moffat County. We live in a community that takes enormous pride in caring for its own. The community comes out in full force to help each other in times of need. Our community deserves the same quality of health care that residents of our neighboring cities deserve.

We’ve got the medical professionals. We need the facility.

A lot of discussion has taken place on the Craig Daily Press Reader Forum with regard to this hospital project and whether TMH can afford to build a new facility. The answer is yes.

The preliminary feasibility studies have been done and more will follow. If a mill levy is approved for this building, the next phase of the project will involve securing funding for the facility.

Yet more feasibility studies will be conducted. The bottom line is that neither HUD nor anyone else will finance a project that they don’t believe the debt service can be paid on. And both HUD and FHA will guaranteed the hospital’s financing so that if, in the rare event, TMH was unable to pay the debt service, the taxpayers of Moffat County would not and could not be asked to ante up. We’ve done our homework – this project is real and possible.

There will be no mansion on the hill. There will be a state-of-the-art replacement medical facility that meets medical, safety and structural codes and can accommodate our patients and their health care needs.

We will provide the space and the equipment to recruit doctors and to ensure a strong local health care system for years to come. We will build a facility designed to maximize efficiency.

We don’t want to build a 5-star hotel, but we can afford a first-rate facility with the best technology and operational efficiency that our money can buy.

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