Support for hospital district sought from Big Piney


The Big Piney Town

Council heard a pitch requesting support

for the special hospital district ballot initiative

that will ease the proposed merger of

Sublette County Rural Health Care District

and the Sublette Center.

Town councilmembers and public questioned

how the hospital district would

expand services and hours at the Marbleton-

Big Piney Clinic.

RHCD board members Tonia Hoffman,

Mike Pompy and spokesperson Emily Ray,

along with Sublette Center board member

Kenda Tanner, updated the council on the

status of the proposed critical access hospital

at the Pinedale Clinic.

Hoffman, the Big Piney school nurse,

said both boards have had many meetings

to work through to this point. She said the

COVID-19 situation makes it difficult to

plan public question-and-answer sessions

about their need for a hospital district and

the extra mill levy that it brings for revenues.

The extra mil would cost taxpayers

$19.53 a year for a $200,000 property evaluation.

“We have a memorandum of understanding

with the Sublette Center that will

let us merge our organizations – they are

not for profit; we are government,” Hoffman

said. “We would like to bring a merger

of those two entities.”

Plans would then lead to the “new very

modest” critical access hospital in Pinedale

with eight beds, a long-term care nursing

home facility and 10 memory care units

for people with dementia or Alzheimer’s.

It will also have a dedicated Title 25 room

for involuntary psychiatric holds, saving

the county money.

As revenues grow, Hoffman said she is

“hopeful” that 24-hour care could be reinstated

at the Marbleton-Big Piney Clinic,

which residents have requested since the

new CAH was proposed.

“We have two new providers here,”

she said. “Our long-term goal is to get

this (CAH) facility built and expand down

here.”

Tanner said the Sublette Center is more

than 40 years old so it can’t qualify for U.S.

Department of Agriculture loans. “Without

this merger and vote, the Sublette Center

has no other options.”

Greg Eiden, speaking as a citizen, said,

“We’ve heard that on this end (south

county). It all goes to that end (Pinedale).

Ninety percent of the people in Pinedale are

government employees and down here, we

don’t have any money.”

“It’s at the top of our list,” Hoffman said.

Tanner said that the county needs to

build the best medical facilities to get more

people to come here, because that is one

feature people look for when relocating.

Councilmember Michelle Hymas

agreed, saying she hears conversations

among people who want to come to Sublette

County.

“If it’s going to cost me $20 a year to

help get a facility, sign me up,” she said.

Eiden repeated that there “is no guarantee”

and asked why the entities need a new

hospital district and another mil if clinic

revenues are breaking even.

“I am committed and the board is all

equally committed to this,” Hoffman said.

County commissioners have agreed to provide

$20 million to the venture if the hospital

district is approved in November.

“We’re moving at least in the right direction,”

said Mayor Tyler Maxfield, adding

that the expanding fiber-optic broadband

means more people will be able to work

from home.

The lean past of trying to bring in qualified

health-care medical employees is no

longer the case, Ray added. “We have a

waiting list of people now. People who

would love to move here.”

Pompy also addressed Maxfield, Hymas

and councilmembers Sherri Redden, Scott

Scherbel and Stafford Polk IV – “We’re

working to get 24-hour service back down

here. We live down here too. All of this has

been to moving toward a CAH and provide

services not here now.”

He explained that the memory-care wing

is expected to fill up quickly because of

their lack in western Wyoming. He cited

strong support from county commissioners,

Marbleton and Pinedale, saying the USDA

needs to hear about countywide support.

“I’m excited to see everyone working

together,” Maxfield said.

Another issue the council discussed is

the late-night placing of flags on the town

park’s “derrick.”

“We don’t want people to climb it,”

Hymas said. “I think they are coming over

from the bar. I think we’ve got to figure out

who is doing it.”

Maxfield explained that the concern is

not the flag’s political message but that

someone might get hurt. There is an ordinance

against climbing the derrick with

a $750 fine. Installing a trail cam was the

preferred solution over fencing and locking

it off.

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