The Saratoga Sun -

Accurate representation


August 28, 2019

When it comes to the governing body of a town, those sitting on the town council should serve as an accurate representation of the citizens. One may argue that this is not always the case. I think it’s safe to say that, with recent developments, this statement currently holds true. Ever since the formation of the Healthcare Sustainability project subcommittee, opinions have been divided on the announcement of a critical access hospital being pursued. The concern is whether or not the hospital would benefit the town.

In fact, it might even be a safe assumption to make that this division within our community began when the previous council informed the previous lessee of the Corbett Medical Clinic that they had no intention of renewing or negotiating the lease. Those divisions increased when the clinic building was leased to Health Management Services (HMS).

Since then, it has been revealed, (and even stated by HMS President Karl Rude) that there have been certain requirements of this lease that aren’t being met. Since October, the Platte Valley has been without a full-time physician. Some have also argued that the requirement of 24/7 on-call services has not been met. Due to this, there have been a number of people who have called for the Town of Saratoga to terminate the current lease with HMS.

The general agreement among the Saratoga Town Council seems to be the concern that, should they terminate the lease, it would lead to a critical lack of healthcare in the Valley and possible litigation. This has been the only thing the council have agreed on in terms of the lease. They also can’t agree on how to approach the lease; cancel the lease and rewrite it, amend it or terminate it completely.

At the most recent meeting of the Saratoga Town Council, Aug. 20, a concerned citizen asked why the Town of Saratoga was keeping the lease with HMS despite the fact that it was violating certain requirements. While each council member attempted to clarify, it became apparent that the current healthcare discussion is a difficult subject.

Councilmember Bob Keel expressed his opinion that the possibility of disruption of medical services is not as great as it was two months ago because there is another company offering to provide medical care.

On the other side of this discussion was Councilmember Steve Wilcoxson, who has been very vocal in his support of the critical access hospital, stated that the current lease with HMS could be amended instead of terminated. This was likely the most tense the discussion of the lease has been between the council so far.

It has been pointed out by council members in the past that the only involvement the Town of Saratoga has in regards to healthcare is the factthey own the building that houses the clinic. During the June 4 meeting there were calls by community leaders for the governing body to sell the building and divest itself from healthcare completely. This hasn’t been disregarded by members of the council, either.

As the discussion about healthcare in our Valley continues, there will doubtless be more citizens who voice their concerns about the lease between HMS and the Town of Saratoga.

Another concern that has been raised is the intent of Memorial Hospital of Carbon County’s to establish a clinic in the Valley or both. As these concerns are raised, it becomes incumbent on the town council to discuss them and come to a decision. What that decision ends up being, however, remains to be seen.

A council that isn’t in agreement isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It shows that there is, at the very least, a healthy debate happening among the governing body of the town. This can sometimes lead to more effective change than a council that agrees with each other all the time. It’s through having discussion, even if it is a little tense, that solutions can be found and new ideas can be implemented. 

Sometimes, that’s how the best ideas can come about.


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