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County OKs CAH cost assessment

Modified: Tuesday, Feb 14th, 2017

SUBLETTE COUNTY – The proposal for a critical access hospital (CAH) in Sublette County took another step forward last Tuesday, when the Sublette County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously at its meeting to approve a $30,000 engineering assessment of the county’s two medical clinics.

With an assessment in place, the commissioners are hoping to determine the cost to bring one or the other up to the necessary standards for a CAH.

“We’re at the stage now, if we’re moving forward, we need to get this engineering assessment done, which involves structural, mechanical, HVAC – which is none of the detail … in the initial studies,” said the county’s owners representative Todd Hurd, of Forsgren Associates Inc., an engineering firm based in Evanston. “This will give you a lot better knowledge of what it’s going to take internally to convert either one of these buildings into a critical access hospital.”

Commissioners Joel Bousman and Mack Rawhouser wondered why the RHCD had not completed this study earlier, since it’s such a crucial piece to making the CAH a reality.

“Just because of the cost,” Hurd said. “$30,000 is a lot of money … not knowing if the project is moving forward.”

“It’s too bad it wasn’t done a year ago, because at that time, we would be down the road a long ways,” Rawhouser said, later taking further issue with people in the past who “were bashing on the county commissioners for dragging their feet.”

Rawhouser voiced his dismay at those who came to meetings to “disembowel county commissioners for what they weren’t doing.”

“I would have no more gone to my boss and told him what I thought – now go outside and scream and holler, but to go tell him? But I’m from a different era,” Rawhouser said.

Resident Kay Malkowski was troubled by Rawhouser’s perspective on those who spoke up on the CAH issue in the past, herself included.

“I did not elect you as ‘my boss,’” she said, reminding him that “you’re representing us.”

Resident and avid CAH supporter Maxine Leckie also echoed Hurd’s take on why the study wasn’t done sooner by the RHCD.

“The health care board would not have spent $30,000 to do a study when it was not at all clear that we were even going to move forward with the critical access hospital,” she said. “And I think that needs to be in your perspective.”

“A year ago, we were looking for approval from the board of county commissioners and if that had happened at that time, the rural health care board would have eaten the engineering study,” said RHCD board trustee Chuck Bacheller.

Now that the assessment is happening, commissioner Tom Noble wondered if the RHCD would consider “partnering up with us and paying half” of the $30,000 price tag.

Speaking for himself as one trustee, Bacheller was open to the idea, so long as the commissioners would provide “some sort of assurance” that the CAH would happen.

“Are we guaranteed we’re going to get this CAH?” he said. “We’ve spent a considerable amount of our budget so far with this process.”

That debate, however, quickly came to a close as commissioner Dr. David Burnett made a motion for the county to foot the entire bill and to accept the proposal for an engineering assessment from Blue Room Architecture – a firm that has already done preliminary work on the project.

“Our commitment is trying to move forward with the critical access hospital, recognizing it’s going to be necessary to for continued health care in our community,” Burnett said. “And I think this is a step forward.”

For the complete article see the 02-14-2017 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 02-14-2017 paper.

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