Craig Press Editorial Board: Whatever you think of the hospital, this can be a chance to build together |

Craig Press Editorial Board: Whatever you think of the hospital, this can be a chance to build together

Memorial Regional Health has a new CEO.
Cuyler Meade / Craig Press

One of the great things about this community is just how passionate the people who live here are.

But, like anywhere else, passion here must walk the thin line between not caring enough to put in the work to change things on one side and caring so much you can’t see straight on the other.

It’s really something how animated folks in Craig and Moffat County get about the local hospital. From atop the hill on the west side of Craig, Memorial Regional hospital casts a long and imposing shadow over our hometown.

As one chief executive steps away, in his place — for now, anyway — comes one from within his own administration whom many in the community see as but a protege, an heir apparent, more of the same.

There’s no shortage of anger for past decisions, for statements past and present, and for ongoing frustration on a very personal level between Craig and its hospital administration.

We’re not here to tell you not to be angry. We’re here to consider together where we might direct that fiery passion that we avoid burning down our own house with it.

We need the hospital. Whatever some say about going to Steamboat or elsewhere for medical care, if you’re hurt, sick or in severe medical distress, Craig wants, needs and deserves a quality, advanced, modern hospital. As much as we rue the departure of one major lifeline industry, we would truly suffer from the loss of a proper hospital.

Think about it like this: If you’re on a plane and you discover the pilot was long ago your middle school bully — the bane of your young existence — do you attack the pilot as he or she is flying the plane? Of course not. You may be angry with the pilot, and for all we know you may be right to be, but regardless of what’s happened between the two of you in the past, you need this person to be successful — for your own sake and that of everyone you are traveling with.

So, when it comes to the hospital, rather than relitigate the past — even the recent past — wouldn’t we be wise to root for its success? With a new administration in charge, no matter how much of a through line we see between this CEO and the one immediately previous to her, and no matter what we think of decisions or statements past or present, we have an opportunity that we should grasp onto if we want to make it to our mutual destination in safety.

Jennifer Riley, whatever you believe, loves Craig. Her family helped build this place over the last 130 or so years. She’s a native of Moffat County who came back home 20 years ago for a chance to do a great work for her home, and, by her own statements, she desperately wants to do just that.

Whether you hate decisions of which she’s been a part, or even have had direct interactions with her that have left you angry, let’s let the past be the past. For the moment, Riley is flying a plane that we all need to make it safely through the turbulence in which we find ourselves.

Riley pledges a community forum, she says probably in the coming month or two. If this community matters to us the way we say it does, this is an opportunity she’s offering to start building a bridge over the rift that’s formed between some of us and the hospital we literally can’t live without.

Hospital administration, Riley and others, have a perspective on the needs of this facility that we can’t see from our own vantage point. We should listen to them when they explain their decisions. But they should also listen to us when we explain our needs, frustrations, confusion, and desperate desires.

Roughly 80 years ago, the forefathers and foremothers of this community fought like heck to bring a modern hospital to Craig. We owe it to them and to ourselves to fight like heck to keep it here and keep it great.

But right now, it’s abundantly obvious that this community isn’t feeling heard by its hospital. That needs to change, and we’ve been promised by the new CEO that it will. We hope that’s true. And the new CEO would be wise to make sure that it is so.

We encourage both sides of this uncomfortable divide to make themselves heard, and, just as importantly if not more, to listen intently to what is said. It’s not a relationship that we as a community can afford to let fail.

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