In March, the Pinedale Town Council and Mayor Jones called a special meeting to discuss their proposal to contribute $1 million towards the future of health care in Sublette County. The purpose of the meeting was to listen to citizens’ ideas before making the decision to commit these funds. Last night, the Sublette County Commissioners held a similar meeting and invited citizens to attend.
In the March meeting with the mayor and town council, our town leaders listened with open minds, asked excellent questions and voiced aloud some of their concerns. After all, the commitment they were considering is a costly one for a small town with declining revenues. Yet, the council and mayor kept an open mind as they listened and responded to many citizens, both opposed to and in favor of the various solutions to our health-care crisis. It was an informative and insightful discussion. The town leaders’ willingness to listen without judgment to everyone that wanted to speak resulted in a very civil, honest and informative exchange of ideas.
However, in stark contrast to the town meeting in March, it was clear from the outset at last night’s meeting that the Sublette County Commissioners were guarded and hostile toward discussion regarding health care in Sublette County, posturing to respond with the same old axes to grind that have been grinding away for several years. It was intimidating to ask questions or offer insights into the matter. I admired the courage of those that were willing to add to the conversation. The hostility was palpable from start to finish.
In both meetings, our health-care providers and Rural Health Care Foundation members very effectively stated what they think is the best strategy to continue to provide quality and affordable health care to our citizens. These folks have done their research and looked at many available and reasonable options to provide health care in our isolated and growing community. Obviously, not everyone in the county agrees with the proposal to move forward with a CAH designation. But we can’t plug our ears and stick out our tongues at each other.
The problem is not going to go away. Revenues are declining, our communities are changing, and the health-care system in our country is in crisis mode. It behooves us to continue these discussions in a civil and informative manner with open minds in order to ensure that we have quality health care close to home. We have competent physicians and staff in our clinics that are committed to providing quality health care for all of us.
Our Rural Health Care board and Foundation members have worked hard to find solutions. Let’s listen to them and work together to find a common ground.