New Meeker hospital still years away

MEEKER I Officials at Pioneers Medical Center watched the results of May’s special election to build a new hospital on the west end of the county with a vested interest.
Rangely voters approved the request for a $38 million bond. Construction on the new hospital — scheduled to open in the first quarter of 2012 — will get under way this summer.
“It is exciting to see for the people in that area of the county,” said Ken Huey, interim chief executive officer at Pioneers. “It certainly energizes us to think of our own needs here and look to the day when we can build new facilities.”
Meeker’s current hospital was built in 1950. PMC’s Board of Directors has long-range plans for a new facility, but construction is still several years off.
“Our board is very appreciative that the (hospital) district voted (in 2006) to tax itself to turn us from a county to a district medical center,” Huey said. “That has been a significant help to us and changes our financial picture significantly.
“But our board feels very strongly that they don’t want to go back to the taxpayers and ask for more,” Huey said. “The strong feeling is that we should be able, through operations and a district tax, to prepare ourselves through our own reserves and through the current funding sources to support a debt that we would need for a new facility.”
As with the board of directors with Rangely District Hospital, the PMC Board considers building a new facility more cost effective than remodeling an existing one and updating it to meet code requirements.
“We believe our best advantage is to start with a totally new facility as we go forward,” Huey said. “There was a study done on this facility … and the conclusion of that analysis is that it would be quite expensive (to remodel). So the idea that we would save money would be questionable and, invariably, we would be compromising when dealing with an older building in a residential area where we have limited ability for growth.”
PMC is looking at a timeframe of three to five years before it would begin construction of a new hospital.
“We’re in the process of putting together a financial plan that will tell us when it’s feasible for us (to build a new hospital),” Huey said. “When that’s fully developed … what we envision is it will be a tracking system, so we will be able to see where we’re at when we go forward with the ultimate goal of new facilities.
“In the meantime, we’ll look at the present facility and when we feel we need to do some refurbishing. We believe it will be our facility for some years yet,” Huey said. “We want it to continue to be a facility we can be very proud of and the community can be very proud of.”