Where's it going to be?
Possible locations for medical facility discussed at HSPS meeting held in Encampment
May 1, 2019
On Thursday, the Healthcare Sustainability Project Subcommittee (HSPS) held their first meeting at the Grand Encampment Opera House. The goal of the meeting was to include the south Valley in discussions about the future of healthcare in eastern Carbon County.
HSPS member and Riverside representative Leslie McLinskey opened the meeting with introductions of subcommittee members.
The members of the subcommittee are: Encampment teacher McLinskey, Saratoga businessmen Will Faust and George Haigh, former state representative Teense Willford, and former governor's appointee to the Wyoming State Board of Medicine Sonja Collamer. Mrs. Collamer could not attend the meeting.
Health Management Services president Karl Rude and Platte Valley Clinic manager and Saratoga Care Center administrator Mark Pesognelli were then introduced.
Rude explained he had been asked to take over running the Saratoga Care Center when it had gone bankrupt four years ago and then was asked to take over management of the clinic after its recent troubles.
Will Faust explained the goals of the subcommittee, including making sure healthcare would continue or even expand in the area.
Faust added 460 healthcare surveys had been returned to date and said there were still paper copies of the surveys available at several locations around the Valley and that those were also available online. Faust said the survey, which had been scheduled to end Friday, April 26, would remain open until Sunday, April 28.
Faust explained the subcommittee was going through the process of forming a non-profit 501(c)(3) entity with the stated purpose of community ownership of medical services in the Valley.
Haigh reported he had been speaking to attorneys about that process and that a sample set of bylaws were forthcoming.
Faust then explained that another goal of the HSPS was to have broader representation so that the organization, "just wasn't a Saratoga thing, or just an Encampment thing, or just a county thing."
Faust talked about the financial advantages of creating the non-profit saying, "The 501(c)(3) gives us the same access to federal funding that a government entity would and it also allows us to have broader representation on this group."
Faust added that the group was looking to grow saying, "We are a fairly small board right now and I think the idea would be is we would grow the number of board members once we get to the operational side of things."
Information was then distributed on the financial feasibility study being conducted by BKD and several other subjects including an overall description of the expected Critical Access Hospital (CAH).
Rude also gave a brief history of the state of healthcare in the Valley and the financial necessity of creating a CAH. Later it was revealed that the CAH would have an estimated staff of between 60-70 people and it was pointed out that, in general, a CAH brings in 1.5 jobs for every staff position at the facility.
(For fuller explanations of these conversations, see "Asking and Answering" in the Dec. 19, 2018 edition of the Saratoga Sun, Healthcare, take III" in the Jan. 23, 2019 edition of the Saratoga Sun, "Healthcare a tax issue?" in the Feb. 20, 2019 edition of the Saratoga Sun, "Surveys and slides" in the Mar. 27, 2019 edition of the Saratoga Sun and "Finances, survey discussed at healthcare sustainability meeting" in the April 24, 2019 edition of the Saratoga Sun)
The Saratoga Sun asked if the 501(c)(3) would be set up like a public board with elected positions from each area of the Valley.
Faust said since the 501(c)(3) board was still in its startup phase that those questions had not been talked about yet. He did say the board was very interested in representing the county and each municipality involved.
When asked if the public would be able to vote on positions, Rude replied that there are mechanisms for creating public boards like a medical services district or a joint powers board. Rude explained that community owned meant not a private entity like his company or a town government.
Faust said the board would take shape more as they group gets and refines the shell of bylaws they are working on.
Haigh added that the attorney was working on the bones of the bylaws and estimated the board would not be created for about seven months and said that would be quite a bit of time to figure out how the board would be organized and appointed.
Other new information shared at the Encampment meeting included the possible physical locations the group was looking at for the CAH.
The first location mentioned by Rude was Kathy Glode Park, which is currently situated alongside both the current clinic and the Saratoga Care Center.
Immediately following the announcement Willford said, "That's going to get you in trouble."
Faust replied that "Mike Glode (husband of the late Kathy Glode) supports it."
Rude said, "The idea would be moving the park that exists to a new location and having that park there redeveloped in a new form using that because that is where healthcare is. The things that work with that is it is right next to the jet accessible airfield, and it's right off the highway so the ambulances can get there without having to drive by a single residence. The other things it affords us is, if we have to make budget-related decisions about what to develop or not to develop, we can choose to use components like the clinic."
The next possibility was the space where the old water tower was located. That is between the school and the library. It was pointed out that there is infrastructure at that location including water, sewer and power. Drawbacks include a longer distance to the jet center and having ambulances drive through a residential area.
The business park at the airport was another location being looked at. While there is a good amount of land there to be developed, sewer does not currently run to the location.
While Rude said there were other parcels of private land being considered, the last area mentioned was the strip of land above the hot pool which is currently home to the Saratoga Community Garden.
While there was other discussion after the possible location announcement, much of it was south Valley residents catching up to previous discussions.
The next meeting of the HSPS is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 8 at the Platte Valley Community Center.