Hospital's USDA loan application submitted

SUBLETTE COUNTY – The Sublette County Hospital District has submitted a loan application to the United States Department of Agriculture for $32 million to fund construction of the critical access hospital residents approved by vote in November. That will be in addition to up to $20 million the county commissioners have committed to build an adjoining long-term care facility.

“The assumption may be that this application was one large and complicated document that was submitted once completed, but it turns out a USDA application actually has many smaller parts that are submitted individually,” new public relations director Kari DeWitt said.

Just a few items the application required were a new tax identification number, DUNS number, hospital board bylaws, a medical staff listing and the Eide Bailly financial forecast.

“The most recent Eide Bailly forecast shows the decrease in tax revenue that Sublette County is currently experiencing,” administrative director Dave Doorn said, “but it wasn’t as bad a drop as we had thought and the future debt ratios are well within the USDA guidelines.”

The latest Highlands Irrigation Ditch part of the agreement was one of the final pieces needed before submission. Currently, the Highland Ditch runs across the property and will have to be rerouted. The Highlands Irrigation District, hospital district and Town of Pinedale have all signed an agreement on that project.

The hospital district also fulfilled USDA requirements by hiring a management team – including CEO, CFO and clinical administrator – from Star Valley Health as a management partner. The hospital board selected Dan Ordyna and Mike Hunsaker, both from Star Valley Health, as interim CEO and COO.

“Our board is working diligently to consolidate the many facets of this project, and to keep everything moving in the right direction,” hospital board chair Tonia Huffman said in a release. “We are grateful to the employees who are working hard through the transitions taking place, and we are trying to complete the preparatory work necessary to make those transitions as seamless as possible. We are thrilled to help usher in a new era of health care in Sublette County.”

Layton Construction, which built Pinedale Elementary School, has been chosen as the project construction manager. Pending USDA approval, construction is slated to begin in August or September. However, yet another construction discussion was planned at the county commissioners’ July 20 meeting with some hopeful to maintain the current Public Health building in construction plans.

The hospital district and Sublette Center will begin joint Facebook updates every Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. to keep the public informed on the latest aspects of the project. Questions can be asked during the update or be emailed to DeWitt at [email protected].