MARBLETON – Years in the making, the merger between the Sublette County Hospital District (SCHD) and the Sublette Center became a reality on a frigid winter night in Marbleton.
At 6:45 p.m. on Dec. 21, SCHD trustees voted unanimously on a motion to approve and “execute” the membership substitution agreement with the Sublette Center, officially kick-starting the merger process.
SCHD trustee Kenda Tanner made the motion and trustee Jamison Ziegler offered the second.
Attorneys for both the SCHD and Sublette Center proposed the membership substitution agreement this summer as a phased approach to the merger. Under this agreement, SCHD trustees will replace the Sublette Center board of directors one at a time, permitting the Sublette Center to retain a degree of control in the leadup to the final step in the merger – a full transfer of assets.
Members of the Sublette Center board of directors announced the impending signing of the merger at the Sublette County Board of Commissioners’ meeting on Dec. 20.
Sublette Center board chairwoman Patty Racich traveled with board members Kerry Majhanovich and Marilyn Jensen to Marbleton on Dec. 21 to attend the SCHD board meeting.
Racich and SCHD board chairwoman Tonia Hoffman formally signed the document following a brief executive session for SCHD trustees and their attorneys to review the final draft.
Hoffman thanked SCHD and Sublette Center staff, administrators, board members and attorneys for the “monumental” work they put in to bring months of negotiations to fruition.
“We are on our way with the merger,” Hoffman said. “It feels good to say that. It has been a lengthy process.”
SCHD administrator Dave Doorn called the Dec. 21 signing a “good night.”
“This is good for both organizations and is a long time coming,” he added.
SLIB grants $10 million award
SCHD administrators received the much-anticipated announcement that the Wyoming State Loan and Investment Board (SLIB) had awarded it a $10-million grant on Thursday, Dec. 15.
The grant consists of federal funds that are available for health-care infrastructure projects through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and administered by the SLIB Board.
Kari DeWitt, SCHD public relations director and grant writer and newly hired Sublette County Health executive director, called the SLIB Board’s decision a “game changer for our community” after receiving the news on Thursday.
SCHD Board Chairwoman Tonia Hoffman said she was “thrilled and humbled” by the SLIB Board’s approval of a “notable grant” for the district.
“This is a testament to the power of the cumulative efforts of so many, and I am overwhelmed with gratitude to all who have supported and helped us get to this point,” Hoffman told the Roundup. “We have been entrusted with a gift that carries a significance beyond the evident monetary value.”
The $10-million grant will be used “directly for the construction of the new critical access hospital,” Hoffman added.
The funds will offset “some of the significant increases in both building materials and labor” that were not anticipated when the process to build the hospital began several years ago, Hoffman said.
“The (ARPA funds) will provide some stability in the budgeting process as we begin to really target final anticipated costs,” Hoffman remarked.
Hoffman highlighted several individuals who were “instrumental” in helping the SCHD achieve its goal.
“Rep. Albert Sommers and Senate President Dan Dockstader tirelessly worked to get us into the lenses of those who needed to hear our story,” Hoffman said. “I would also like to thank Gov. Mark Gordon for his gracious willingness to hear our voices repeatedly for several years, and to Kari DeWitt, who worked so hard to get our application ready for submission.”
SCHD board treasurer and secretary Kenda Tanner stated that the $10-million award is a “huge step in the right direction” to “help cover the increase in construction costs of the project” caused by inflation.
“The decision also shows the state’s recognition and support of the need for a hospital in Sublette County,” Tanner added. “Once again, this was a truly wonderful collaboration of efforts from the Sublette County Health administration and board members, the Sublette County Board of Commissioners, Star Valley Health (the SCHD’s management partner) as well as Albert Sommers and other local lawmakers.”
“This grant is a significant stepping stone to the successful completion of the hospital,” said trustee Ashli Tatro. “I am very appreciative of everyone who had a hand in obtaining this grant. Their hard work and commitment to healthcare in our county is commendable.”