Members of the Gunnison Hospital governing board have decided not to approach Intermountain Health Care or other such entities to help them alleviate financial problems.
They will work toward solving the problems on a local level and have hired a consultant.Dr. Richard McDermott, who has a background in working for health care organizations, will delve into the hospital's problems. His services will cost about $8,000, and the study will take about six to eight weeks to complete.
The hospital board has also agreed to borrow $65,000 for one year to cover payroll expenses. Board member Rodney Anderson said in a recent public meeting that the facility is $212,000 in debt and the maximum that can be borrowed from a bank is $240,000.
A certified audit also has been ordered, board Chairman Mardell Jensen said.
Hospital administration came under fire at the meeting.
The administration will be included in the study by McDermott, who teaches hospital administration and accounting at Brigham Young University. Interviews with the Gunnison Hospital staff have begun.
The public is invited to contact the consultant with questions or concerns about the hospital or its administration.
In another development, local doctors have pledged to send their lab work to the hospital, although they said it will increase their costs.
In another turn of events, Dr. Von S. Pratt retracted a threat to resign made in a letter to mayors of the communities that the hospital serves. However, Pratt said he made a commitment several years ago to support Hospital Administrator Dale Rosenlund. If the administrator is released, the doctor said he will leave the community.
The board chairman said members feel they need professional assistance because they are not knowledgeable about some areas of hospital operations.
The financial problems have been partly blamed on a lack of patients. The hospital administrator said 62 percent of the patients live in Gunnison Valley, 26 percent in Sevier Valley and 6 percent in Wayne County.
The number of patients has decreased this year compared to last year, Rosenlund said.
Pratt said about 85 percent of the medical problems faced by area residents can be handled at the local hospital. He said that is a good percentage for a rural hospital that is staffed by four doctors.
The new regional prison could be an added source of revenue for the hospital if officials pursue it.
A letter from the Utah Department of Corrections said the Utah State Prison near Draper spent some $450,000 at the University of Utah Medical Center last year. It also said that if the Gunnison Hospital administration isn't active in pursuing medical service for the prison, the Department of Corrections will go elsewhere for the services.