Rumors that Garfield Memorial Hospital and its associated clinics will close are entirely false, but lower levels of long-term care are being eliminated as a cost-saving move.

Wayne Ross, hospital administrator, said general medicine and surgical care, obstetrics and home health-care services are continuing under an excellent staff that can provide for most of an individual's medical needs. "For those who need a higher level of services than we offer, we will refer them to competent care-givers within our system. We will continue to do what we can do well."The system he referred to is that of Intermountain Health Care Inc., owner and operator of the hospital and clinics in Garfield County. Local officials have been assured that the corporation is committed to rural health care and to the hospital and its operations. "The challenge is to rethink how we are operating and the level of services we provide and take the necessary steps to assure long-term viability of the facility," said Mike Falck, Intermountain Health Care vice president.

Ross said the few patients who are receiving long-term care at the hospital in Panguitch will either be transferred to other facilities, stay at home or be taken care of at the skilled care rate.

The hospital administrator said Garfield Memorial will become more financially stable by eliminating the long-term care, noting that it costs about as much to maintain care and facilities for three patients as it does for 20. He added that the hospital struggles to stay financially in the black, as do most rural hospitals.

Hospital officials continue to upgrade and improve the facility and its equipment. A birthing room is one of the improvements at the hospital. It has a new, unique birthing bed and a more relaxed atmosphere, said Linda Owen, director of nursing.

The room has a self-contained unit that is equipped to handle any emergency. It also has the most up-to-date electronic monitoring equipment for both mother and baby, Owen said.