Seven seeking seat on Rangely hospital board

RANGELY I Voters will elect two of seven candidates to the Rangely District Hospital (RDH) board of directors in a coordinated polling place election with the Western Rio Blanco Metropolitan (WRBM) Recreation and Park District May 6.
One candidate will replace Rob Mackey, who will term out of his position next month, while board appointee John Payne, who filled board member Marty Estes’ position when Estes moved last November, will attempt to maintain his seat on the board. Other candidates include Charles (Rick) Brady, Michael Dillon, Jason Kurrasch, Jennifer Moore, Tad Moss and Nathaniel (Nate) Polley.
Payne, who owns Giovanni’s Italian Grill, accepted the board appointment because he believed his background could help the district improve its stated commitment to customer service.
“As a business person and someone who works in the service industry, I felt one of the weaknesses the hospital had was customer service, and I thought I could bring my expertise to the table and help with that,” Payne said.
He is running for his current seat, he said, to help move the hospital toward the potential he believes it has.
“I just feel like RDH has a great opportunity with the new hospital (building) to be better than it is, and I want to be part of helping that happen,” he said.
If elected, Payne said he wants to be part of a board that understands and carries out its roles, among them helping identify directions administrators should or could be taking and ensuring that the hospital’s activities are transparent.
Payne has 20 years of experience on church boards and three years serving on Rangely’s lodging tax board.
Candidate Charles (Rick) Brady has held various management positions with Blue Mountain Energy Co. for more than 24 years of employment, retiring from the Deserado Mine in 2005. He was on the Rangely Rural Fire Protection District board for eight years, four of them as its chairman, and on the East Carbon City Council in Utah. Brady currently owns the Rangely Liquor Store.
If elected, he believes he can help address one specific issue among others community members have voiced about RDH.
“The biggest concern I hear from the residents of Rangely is that they cannot go up there and see the same doctor every time,” he said. “That is the No. 1 issue. And I think there have been some failures in getting full-time doctors here.”
Along with helping facilitate funding to draw and keep full-time doctors, Brady said a board’s central role is to give the hospital’s director guidance.
Michael Dillon, a technician for the Town of Rangely gas department, said that while relevant past experience includes writing for and designing the local college newspaper and being an active member of the Elks Club, his real strength is seeing things from a resident’s perspective.
“I’m just starting out, but I’m very community-minded,” he said. “Being an active member of the community, I see things the way everybody else in the community sees it, and that’s who I want to please the most.”
Dillon said he plans to raise a family in Rangely and that his motivation for running is to help develop a strong facility with a good reputation that will someday provide quality care to his children.
Keeping good physicians in Rangely is also a priority, Dillon said.
“I went down to Grand Junction the other day to see a specialist, and I couldn’t put down who my primary care doctor is because I don’t know who that is,” he said. “At the same time, I have met the new doctors (Rieves and Aguirre) and I really like them. I want to see how we can keep them here.”
Dillon said that before he can advocate for the board to take certain steps, he would need to be on it for some time to better understand the hospital’s circumstances and needs.
Jason Kurrasch, a field manager for Baker-Hughes Well Service, said daily work with financial reports, oversight of account managers and relationship building with customers have provided him relevant experience to be on the board.
He hopes to be elected to build and strengthen community ties.
“At the heart of it, I want to be involved in the community,” he said. “Rangely’s somewhere I want to stay. I love being here. I grew up here … being able to give something back would give me some sense of a bond to the community.”
Kurrasch said he wants to address negative community perceptions of the hospital and learn how a board fits into changing those perceptions.
“The hospital’s been looked at negatively from circumstances that were out of their control,” he said. “It’s hard to prepare for doctors leaving in the manner they did. From that position, I want to fit a puzzle piece, understand what the current board is and fill a role in it.”
Jennifer Moore has been an administrative assistant to Alliance Energy Service Co. (AESC) general managers for the past 3.5 years, working with safety regulations and accounts payable and receivable.
Relevant experience, she said, includes 10 years in the public sector and degrees in business administration, agri-business and agri-production. Family encouragement has also motivated her decision to run.
“My uncle has always put great emphasis on community support and getting involved in the community,” she said. “This is a good opportunity for me to get involved. I have a house here. I work here. I hope to stay here the rest of my life.”
Moore said a board’s role at RDH is oversight, not just of the needs of the facility and staff but for patients in the community.
“The board needs to focus on customer service to get the community to believe in the hospital again,” she said. “Lots of people don’t even go to this facility, so that’s a big focus. Retention is the other. We’ve had lots of doctors over the years and we need to focus on finding the right doctors — ones who want to stay here in Rangely.”
Tad Moss, a former employee of RDH, works in disposals for RNI Trucking. His background in construction and agriculture, he said, along with working for large companies, has prepared him for a seat on the board.
If elected, Moss wants the community to have venues for expressing ideas and concerns and for the board to act on that input. He said he would also focus on holding administrators responsible for their decisions.
“A few people are making choices for the many, and whether the choices are good or bad, they’re not held accountable for their actions,” he said. “I’d like to have a town meeting every quarter to have everybody come together with department heads and pose questions. Are we making headway? What do we need to change? … Instead of the double-talk the community’s getting now.”
He said the hospital needs more community involvement to ensure the board represents the interests of the people it serves.
“People shouldn’t be able to influence the board to take the direction they want,” Moss said. “The board needs to actually be about checks and balances. That goes along with fiscal responsibility as well as ensuring employees aren’t just getting a paycheck, but actually earning a paycheck.”
AESC health, safety and environment specialist Nathaniel (Nate) Polley said his experience working with different kinds of people in a variety of work and other environments will be useful if he is elected.
“I want to give back to my community and plan to be a resident for many years to come,” he said. “I want to help our town stay what it is.”
Polley said that while the hospital could focus more on customer service, he has come into the election without specific expectations of what he wants to support or change.
“I don’t really have an agenda,” he said. “I just want to contribute. There’s nothing I see that I have to fix; I just want to be part of our community.”
He added that the “blank slate” position could be an asset to the RDH board.
“Sometimes it’s good to have an outside perspective from someone who hasn’t been directly involved,” he said. “New people who haven’t had a lot of experience that way and don’t have preset notions can help.”
Residents can complete separate ballots for the hospital and WRBM candidates at the Rangely Town Hall on May 6 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Although this is not a mail-in ballot election, voters have until May 2 to apply for absentee ballots.
Separate forms must be filled out for each district and can be picked up at Rangely District Hospital and the rec center.

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