Are you tired of fiscal irresponsibility? Are you tired of tunnel vision thinking? Are you tired of no transparency and no input from the public? If you answer yes to any of these questions, you need to vote for a change of trustees on the Sublette County Rural Health Care District Board.
We can continue down the same path for the next four years or we can elect leadership that is willing to explore new options, listen respectfully to the public and find solutions to our need for sustainable health care. You, the voter, can make this decision on Nov. 6.
Our present health care board has created the plan for the approximately $24.5-million facility, which was to be paid for by a loan from the USDA. This loan was denied for all the reasons the public had stated prior to submission. The project is too expensive for the less than 10,000 residents in Sublette County. There is not sufficient support from the towns and county. There is no public trust in this board of trustees. Many citizens feel there is need for a critical access hospital designation, but that it could, and should, be accomplished without spending more money than we can afford.
Now, after the denial by the USDA, this same board is going to appeal the denial. Not only won’t they listen to the public, they refuse to believe the experts they hoped would give them a loan. They have considered and stated publicly that they would seek private funding if their appeal was denied. The USDA loan has an interest rate of less than 4 percent and private lending could cost as much as 7 percent. If you do the math you will see an added interest cost of approximately $800,000. Would you spend your own money in this manner? Can you really trust this SCRHCB with your tax dollars?
In May of 2018, there was a full-page ad in the both the Examiner and Roundup stating the district had a shortfall of $722,152. In the meantime, (since July 2017) approximately $800,000 dollars has been spent on various feasibility studies for a project that hasn’t been funded. Last week a 4 percent cost of living allowance was given to district employees. This board is presently spending close to 88 percent of the total budget on wages and benefits. This is for an organization that is operating in the red according to its ad in the newspapers. This in an area where the population is decreasing partly due to the fact that jobs have been lost! Is this the common-sense quality you are seeking in board members spending tax dollars?
The residents of South County – Marbleton and Big Piney – have no on-call emergency services by a medical provider from 5 p.m. until the clinic opens at 8 a.m. There is nothing on weekends. As a resident of this area you must drive yourself to seek help. You can call for an ambulance and, if there is one available at the ambulance barn on this end of the county, you will probably be taken to Pinedale unless the doctor on call approves a transport to another location. If there isn’t an available ambulance in Marbleton, you must wait until one comes from Daniel. Fifteen minutes may be too long in a real emergency. Those of us on this end of the county haven’t experienced this low level of medical care in 30 years. Cost savings to the district was approximately $1 million yet they seem to think they can afford to build a $24.5-million facility. The people of Marbleton and Big Piney will bear the burden of this decision.
We must have a sensible approach to sustaining a health care system that works for Sublette County. Most of us recognize that we need to look at other models that will provide health care and at the same time be affordable. I do not want to leave this amount of debt for my grandchildren. I can’t imagine that any of you want that either.
Vote for change on Nov. 6. Vote for candidates who will respectfully listen to your ideas. Vote for candidates who are willing to look for a Plan B.