The Future of Healthcare in Sublette County
by Sublette Center Board of Directors media release
March 31, 2016
The Sublette Center Board of Directors would like to thank everyone who came to the workshop of our board and the RHCD board on Tuesday, March 29, 2016. For folks unable to attend, our position is to follow the Eide Bailly recommendations as presented to the public back in January.
As residents of Sublette County, you are already aware of the precarious situation healthcare in this county finds itself. Both entities are subsidized by tax payer monies at this time, and both entities are acutely aware that those funds are dwindling. Due to the urgent crossroads in which we find ourselves, the boards have been working in cooperation with the Sublette County commissioners to address the problem. To that end, we hired consultants, Eide Bailly, who looked very closely at the operations of both entities. In January, those consultants presented their information to the public along with their recommendation to form a joint entity run by a home office. After their recommendations, members of the boards serving Sublette Center and the District met to discuss the palatability of a merger. At that time, it was requested of the Sublette Center board to formulate an outline in order for us to be interested in partnering with the district. One major hurdle to overcome was the fact that our board is appointed, not elected and, therefore, unable to legally "merge" with the district board (an elected board).
As a result of that meeting, Sublette Center hired legal counsel, Nick Healy, who has expertise in the formation of healthcare organizations. He developed a joint powers board agreement, which was presented to the district board during the March 29thworkshop meeting. Although the joint powers board agreement proposition is very much in draft form, it can be accessed on the Sublette Center website, www.subcenter.org. To briefly review, the agreement would actually be between the district and the commissioners for a finite period of time, currently proposed at 5 years. The joint powers board would be made up of 3 RCHD board members, 3 Sublette Center board members and 1 board member appointed by the commissioners. During those years, the Sublette Center would lease all of its assets to the joint powers board, thereby subjecting its operations to the joint powers board. After the 5 years, we hope the partnership will be functioning in a fiscally responsible manner and the merger would become permanent.
Two major points were brought up last evening that should be addressed. The first is a concern for 1 million dollars that Sublette Center is asking for building improvements. To be clear, that 1 million is to bring the current Center up to acceptable living conditions for our elders. It includes basics such as improved heating, cable lines to provide electronic medical records, as well as carpet/paint/flooring because our building is an old one. We recognize that decreased tax funding precludes the option of a brand new build. However, we do not intend to compete with the building of a CAH and can wait on the improvements. We simply need assurances that they will come soon as our elders to live here 24 hours a day.
Secondly, there was expressed concern that Sublette Center was neither bringing funding to the table nor commitment and that we can "get out" of the agreement after a mere 5 years. As a matter of clarification, we own our building and land outright, along with 52 employees, apartments, and Medicare/Swing bed business.
We are intending to lease it all to the joint powers board. In other words, we are "all in", committed to helping the formation of a new entity, one that includes the CAH and the nursing home. We have provided 24 hour a day care for 38 years and are somewhat experts in the staffing of such a care model. If the new entity can be run efficiently and to the acceptable standards of the constituents of this county, our assets will go 100% to the new entity. We propose to give all we have.
Some of you might be asking why we would do that. The answer is that this issue is the future of healthcare in Sublette County. In order for healthcare to survive in Sublette County, both organizations need to be healthy. This is the most important decision that we will make as board members.
We have always felt a decision of this magnitude needs to go before the public. Please support us in this endeavor because, there is much to overcome. If the RHCD board will work with us to make the joint powers agreement acceptable to them, it still needs to be approved by the Attorney General. We will both have to give up some control, which is always a frightening prospect.
However, if we are successful in working together, we can accomplish great things. We look forward to working with the District board to ensure the future of healthcare in Sublette County.
Board of Directors, Sublette Center