VNA request draws criticism |

VNA request draws criticism

Some residents don't want county to help fund merger

Moffat County residents filled the commissioner chambers Tuesday to hear representatives of the Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association and The Haven make a pitch for county funds.

Every resident who commented voiced opposition to the county contributing funds to the merger between the VNA and The Haven, an assisted living home in Hayden.

The VNA and The Haven asked the county commissioners to contribute $2,500 that would be used to demonstrate that the organizations have local government support when they apply for grants.

The VNA originally requested $50,000 from the county. The commissioners have written the VNA and The Haven a letter of support for the merger.

Community members and both commissioners-elect said the county shouldn’t contribute the money because The Haven will compete with private enterprise.

The commissioners decided to table a funding decision until Tuesday. The organizations are seeking funding to pay The Haven’s debt and build reserve funds.

The Haven, a nonprofit organization, won’t compete with private businesses, because it is the only assisted-living facility in Northwest Colorado that accepts Medicaid, VNA Director Sue Birch said.

Bob Grubb, owner of Rainbow Living Center, an assisted living facility in Craig, said he accepted Medicaid until two years ago, when his insurance costs skyrocketed and he was forced to stop. He said he would like to accept Medicaid again someday, and he viewed The Haven as competition.

“One of my big difficulties is when individuals compete from different playing fields,” Grubb said.

Red Cortner, owner of Sand Rock Ridge, a nursing home in Craig, also voiced opposition to the county contributing funding to the merger.

“When you’re putting money into a public system, where do we stand? Are we gonna be able to come here and say give us some money? No,” Cortner said.

Commissioner Darryl Steele said he would not contribute to the merger because he was philosophically opposed to providing government funds to an organization that competes with private business.

Commissioners-elect Tom Gray and Saed Tayyara agreed.

“We’re competing with other people in private enterprise trying to make a living,” Tayyara said. “The letter of support is more than sufficient, and we shouldn’t give a dime.”

But Commissioner Marianna Raftopoulos voiced support for the organizations.

Government sometimes needs to step in and support public health, because it isn’t always profitable for private industry to do so, she said.

That leaves Commissioner Les Hampton as the deciding vote. It was Hampton who moved to table the decision to have more time to consider the request.

Moffat County already contributed $100,000 to the VNA as public-health funding and $32,000 for building rental.

Eight former Moffat County residents reside at The Haven, and each of them is covered by Medicaid, said The Haven Board member Mark Fischer.

Rio Blanco County will contribute $2,500 to the merger, Birch said.

Rob Gebhart can be reached at 824-7031 or

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