SUBLETTE COUNTY – Taking the first steps to create an organizational foundation, the Sublette County Hospital District Board of Trustees passed several motions at its Feb. 17 meeting.
Following an executive session, the trustees voted unanimously to retain attorney Tom Lubnau out of Gillette as legal counsel. The board chose Lubnau’s firm out of four prospective applicants, Board Chair Tonia Hoffman said.
Trustee Jamison Ziegler stated that Lubnau brought “piles of experience in hospitals and hospital boards.” Fellow trustee Dr. Brendan Fitzsimmons agreed, stating that in addition to his extensive healthcare knowledge, Lubnau possessed valuable experience working with the state legislature.
"I am confident he can guide us through this process," said Hoffman.
With legal counsel in place, the hospital district, Sublette Center and Sublette County Rural Health Care District (SCRHCD) can move forward with negotiations over the merger between the last two entities, Hoffman added.
In order to pay for legal services and establish a financial foundation, the board approved a motion to seek a limited line of credit through First Bank. The SCRHCD and Sublette Center both have existing primary accounts through First Bank. The trustees agreed that remaining with First Bank for the immediate future would provide stability and continuity for the SCRHCD and Sublette Center’s accounting staff during the process to turn assets over to the hospital district by the end of the fiscal year in June.
The board discussed the next step in choosing a management partner. Hoffman reported that the public meetings hosted in early February helped the board gather helpful feedback. The trustees needed time to wade through the stacks of surveys they received from staff at the SCRHCD and Sublette Center and public input to gather more information before making a final choice, Hoffman added.
Hoffman suggested scheduling one final round of meetings with each prospective partner. Fitzsimmons stated that he was ready to hear where the public stood and stressed a public meeting without the management partners candidates present.
Ziegler and trustee Wendy Boman thought another round with the management partners was wise, though they stressed the need for a set of specific questions to ask each candidate.
The board agreed to host a final round of public sessions with the management partners before scheduling a public special meeting for the sole purpose of discussing each candidate and voting in the final choice. The board set March 10 as a tentative deadline for these meetings.
Application update and construction management
Dave Doorn, administrative director for the SCRHCD, reported to the board that most of the paperwork for the USDA loan was complete. The list included appraisals, financial reports and a preliminary architectural report.
The SCRHCD is working on an environmental report and are in negotiations with the Highland Irrigation District to relocate a ditch running through the SCRHCD’s property, Doorn added. He said that once the environmental report was completed, the remaining items in the application process included approving a management partner, creating bylaws and hiring a construction manager.
Ziegler proposed obtaining a construction manager at risk. Based on his construction experiences as a Sublette County School District No. 1 board member, Ziegler explained that the construction manager at risk is one of three construction delivery methods. The contract requires the construction manager to deliver a project within a guaranteed maximum price up front based on the architectural specifications available at the time, Ziegler added.
The construction manager at risk system would allow the hospital district to know construction costs in advance, Ziegler explained. Davis Partnership Architects, the firm the SCRHCD hired to design the preliminary architectural report, recommended a construction manager at risk, Ziegler said, and had already drafted requests for proposals.
The board passed a motion to begin the process to send out RFPs and start moving on acquiring a construction manager at risk.
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