High Desert Hoofbeats
Care for the care center...
by Sena Taylor Hauer
Apr 18, 2013 | 1163 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
So it turns out the Canyonlands Health Care Special Service District and Grand County can’t ask the community to vote on whether to pass a measure that would help subsidize the Canyonlands Care Center through an increased sales tax. State law currently prevents that type of initiative for a town of our size.

Although I would have been in favor of the proposed 0.5 percent Healthcare Facilities Tax as a fundraising method, I’m kind of relieved there won’t be a vote on the matter, mainly because I’m afraid the community wouldn’t support the request. Such rejection would be a blow to the morale of everyone associated with the care center and its struggles to pay bills.

I certainly have no crystal ball as to the outcome of a hypothetical election. But I’ve seen our fiscally conservative voters reject similar proposals from the school district, and I’ve heard them complain about what they view as imprudent local government spending.

It pains me to see the ongoing financial struggles both at the hospital and the care center. My husband and I were cheerleaders in the initial effort to build a new hospital, even though the goal was daunting. I was amazed when the land near Williams Way was cleared of dead peach trees to make way for a new hospital, and I was even further amazed that enough money was conjured up to build the thing.

The new hospital is beautiful. It’s convenient. And I’m proud of it. I’ve had opportunity to visit most every wing, whether it’s for an appointment at the doctor’s office, a hospital room visit, a test from the lab, or for the most dreaded of all visits, to the emergency room. The facility is an asset to our town. But I have some deep concerns about how we can afford it.

I’m not a numbers person. If I see a budget on paper, my eyes glaze over. But I know there are a lot of bright people in Moab whose eyes light up at budgets. A task force comprised of representatives from the city and county, and from the control boards of Canyonlands Healthcare Special Service District and Moab Healthcare, has been working on new ideas to stem the losses, estimated at $45,000 per month for the care center. Anyone interested in joining the task force should contact Joey Allred from the hospital or Moab Mayor Dave Sakrison.

Perhaps if current administrators can’t figure out how to run the care center in the black, it would be wise to sell the facility or turn it over to an entirely new management firm. This is brazen talk in a small town where the person whose head might be on the chopping block is also the person you might see at the grocery store. But if changes need to be made, they should be made, no matter how radical.

Care center workers have already endured cuts to their time off and to their health insurance benefits. They won’t be able to look forward to performance bonuses because those have been eliminated. And these are the very people who put their hearts and souls into keeping our elderly comfortable in their latter years.

In 2010, when my Dad’s health and physical condition waned to the point that he couldn’t stay at home, we as a family worried about whether he could even stay in Moab for nursing home care. The old extended-care facility at Allen Memorial Hospital was almost always full and had a waiting list. Luckily, when it was time for Dad to leave his home, there was room in Moab’s extended-care wing. We didn’t have to pursue the horrific option of sending him to Fruita or another faraway place to live out his last days.

From a supply-and-demand perspective, I would have thought a nursing home in Moab would have been a slam-dunk economic success. But clearly, there is more complexity to the situation. I hope that more of our town’s creative thinkers can help devise solutions to the current funding woes and ensure that Moab can keep its elderly in a quality facility right here in Grand County.

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