Sublette County Rural Health Care Board dumps mediation route

Out with the old, in with the new

PINEDALE – In October, former members

of the Sublette County Rural Health Care

District Board voted to pursue mediation after

the U.S. Department of Agriculture Community

Programs Director Lorraine Werner denied

its $25,461,000 loan application to build

a critical access hospital at the BloomField


An election later, with four new members,

the newly elected board voted not to mediate

at its first official meeting Monday, Nov. 19.

They also voted to remove the $100,000

earnest money that the previous board put in

an escrow account and return it to the district’s

bank account, because, for them, financing for

the BloomField site is no longer an option.

New trustee Bill Johnson said, “If we do

another grant application it will be for a different


New chairman Wendy Boman corrected

him, saying, “When we do another application.”

Attorney Doug Mason was authorized to

notify the seller, finance company, USDA

and a list of others impacted by the decision

of the change.

Pinedale Clinic Medical Director Dr. David

Kappenman asked from the audience when

the board would pursue other options. He said

finances are getting tight and the two clinics

operated by the district are losing reserves and

the situation is demoralizing for staff. He said

30 percent of the population is on Medicare

and Medicaid but that population makes up

60 percent of the patients seen by the clinics.

Those entities don’t reimburse charges in full

at the clinics at the same levels they would reimburse

a hospital.

Earlier in the meeting it was explained

the clinics are only paid about 30 percent of

charges by government entities, resulting in

large write-offs.

New trustee Tonia Hoffman said she was

unwilling to jump in right away and pursue

hospital plans and the trustees may wait a year

“for dust to settle” following the contentious

election. She said the voters spoke at the election

and told them they didn’t want the hospital

as planned.

Kappenman said, “If it’s a year, I’m out of


He encouraged them to move forward


New trustee Mike Pompy said he was

waiting until the newly elected county commissioner

is seated in January. Doug Vickrey,

elected to the county commission, was in the

audience for the health care board meeting,

but made no comments.

“I’m ready to hit the ground running,”

Pompy said. “If we do a better job up here

with an application, maybe the USDA will

approve it the first time.”

Johnson said the board has more important

work first.

“We need to take a look at expenses,” Johnson

said. “I don’t think we need to cut people,

but look at positions.”

He compared it to his former job at BTI.

“If we weren’t busy we sold vehicles and cut


Kappenman said unlike that company, for

heath care the district was getting 40 cents on

the dollar. He said BTI would move as quickly

as possible and make necessary changes to

get paid 101 percent on a dollar for


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