PINEDALE – The Pinedale Town Council became the first entity in the county to support a managing partner for the Sublette County Hospital District, and the proposed critical access hospital and long-term care project.
In a unanimous motion, the council recommended that the hospital district affiliate with St. John’s Health as a management partner at its Feb. 22 meeting.
Three potential health care companies submitted proposals to the hospital district – Eastern Idaho Regional Medical Center, Star Valley Health and St. John’s Health. The hospital district hosted conferences with each candidate during the week of Feb. 8, allowing the candidates to make a pitch for their services and provide a forum for stakeholders, community leaders and members of the public to ask them questions.
A delegation from the town council, consisting of Mayor Matt Murdock and Councilwoman Judi Boyce, attended all three conferences with a list of questions agreed upon by councilmembers at their Feb. 8 meeting.
On Monday, Boyce and Murdock both spoke in favor of St. John’s as a partner that would best benefit the Town of Pinedale. All three companies submitted different proposals, and there were pros and cons to each one, Boyce said.
Advantages to St. John’s included continuity of existing arrangements between St. John’s and the Sublette County Rural Health Care District to provide local healthcare, Boyce explained. EIRMC’s status as a subsidiary to major national corporation, HCA, provided opportunities that smaller organizations did not, Boyce added. She stated, however, that St. John’s offered a wide range of services that were much closer to Sublette County residents than Idaho Falls.
Due to EIRMC’s distance, Boyce raised concern that if the hospital district partnered with EIRMC, it would loose business to St. John’s.
Boyce highlighted potential growth opportunities for the Town of Pinedale suggested by St. John’s in their Feb. 11 pitch. The St. John’s leadership team discussed the possibility of relocating jobs to Sublette County for employees that struggle to find affordable housing in Teton County and can work remotely.
Murdock agreed that St. John’s offered strong growth potential for Pinedale, bringing in more young people and professionals to bolster the local economy. Murdock stressed the importance of keeping health care in Wyoming and the strong relationship between Sublette County and St. John’s, particularly the current cooperation between each county’s first responders.
Star Valley Health offered an interesting pitch, but Murdock said he was concerned that it was a “young company” compared to the more established St. John’s.
Councilman Tyler Swafford echoed the sentiments that St. John’s was closer and more convenient for Sublette County residents. Councilman Dean Loftus emphasized the fact that St. John’s had been willing to partner with the SCRCHD in the past.
The hospital district is hosting another round of meetings with each prospective partner as its trustees continue to gather input and information to make a final decision.