Volume 6, Number 24 - September 7, 2006
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RHCD extends olive branch
Garry Eiden Sr., Bill Budd and Jud Faler of the Sublette County Rural Health Care District met with Sublette County Commissioners Tuesday to discuss plans for construction of a new medical clinic on county property near Pinedale.
Budd said he was there to “extend the olive branch” and have open communications with the commission on a regular basis.
“I’ve read the lease and I know what our obligations under the lease are,” Budd said, adding that the RHCD will fully comply with the terms of the lease.
The county owns the land and clinic buildings, which the RHCD leases from the county. The lease notes that the commission must first approve any capital construction projects before work commences. Since the RHCD had set a groundbreaking date for construction of the new clinic for mid-September, the commission sent a letter to the board noting that the commission had not yet approved design plans for the new facility. When the RHCD board received the letter, several of the outgoing board members complained about the commission’s timing.
Faler said Tuesday that he also wants to work with the commission, and noted that it is the consensus of the newly elected board to proceed with the Pinedale clinic. Faler said he was told that the board would lose about half-a-million dollars if the project were stopped at this point. Delays would cost $124,000 a month, Faler reported. Faler added he would like to see the board make progress on a new Marbleton clinic as well.
The commission is willing to purchase the Marbleton property to build the new clinic at the existing location, commissioners noted.
Commission Chair Betty Fear explained the background of a recent letter she sent to the RHCD. She said the commission didn’t want a contract signed for a multi-million dollar construction project when it wasn’t clear who was going to be serving on the board. Fear said the letter was simply a reminder of a lease that had already been signed by the existing board members just two years prior.
“It wasn’t intended to set off a firestorm,” Fear said.
Eiden asked if anyone has figured out where all the money is going to come from, which Commissioner John Linn said was also a commission concern.
“Our concerns were valid,” Linn said, adding that the commission had expressed these concerns to the board before.
Linn said the threat of the escalation of costs if the project is delayed “is crap.” Linn also raised the issue of discrimination against certain doctors using clinic facilities.
Budd responded, “I feel that any doctor in the county that is licensed and is making a living ought to have emergency privileges.”
Commissioner Bill Cramer said since he’s served on the RHCD board in the past, he knows what the board is up against. He said he doesn’t want to micro-manage the board, but wants to support the board.
Fear said she finds some irony in the current situation. She said that when money was requested for the retirement center, they were told the RHCD board couldn’t afford to support the center.
“We just need to take a long, hard look at the medical services that are being provided in this county,” Fear said.
Cramer asked the board members if they were comfortable with continuing with the construction project, to which Faler and Budd said they were. Cramer said he would support the board in its decision. Linn went through the general contractor’s bid packet, noting all the exclusions on the building that is anticipated to cost about $9 million. Budd suggested the RHCD board meet with the contractor to review the details.
Cramer suggested the county move forward on purchasing the Marbleton property as well. The board agreed to review the Marbleton land options and report back to the commission about their preference.
“Just let us know what you want us to buy,” Cramer said.
The commission committed to backing the board for the Pinedale clinic construction. Cramer said the county could provide the up-front funding, with the understanding that the RHCD may have to pay the money back in the future.
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