Keep Care Local pushes Rifle health-care bond
While in her home several months ago, a Rifle Housing Authority resident took a fall, breaking several ribs and puncturing a lung in the process.
An ambulance came to pick her up, but with the beds at Grand River Hospital all filled, she had to be taken an hour away to St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction.
All the while her family had been trying to contact her, but with her hearing aid dislodged from the fall, she didn’t know her phone was ringing. It wasn’t until several hours later that her concerned family, who had been calling Grand River Health for information, located her.
Stories like this are all too familiar for Rifle residents as a town whose population has grown by nearly three times from 1980-2010 no longer has adequate health-care facilities to meet current and growing demand, asserts Natalie Bowman, with the election advocacy group Keep Care Local.
“If someone goes to the emergency room and it’s full, they will likely be transferred all the way to Grand Junction,” she said. “It’s a hardship for the entire family.”
With only 12 beds, on any particular day, patients at Grand River have a 50/50 chance of being transferred to another hospital for services requiring overnight stay, according to information from the Committee to Keep Care Local.
To keep up with growth and to rebuild the community’s 50-year old nursing home, Grand River Hospital has placed a bond measure on the November ballot, which arrived in residents’ mail last week.
The estimated tax impact of the proposed $89.4 million bond measure will be $2.83 per month per $100,000 of a home’s assessed value. The term of the bond would be 20 years, with the repayment plus interest totaling $154 million. The supporting mill levy would cease to exist once the bond is paid.
Keep Care Local states that the oil and gas industry would pay approximately 85 percent of the tax. Homeowners would pay only 5-7 percent, the advocates say.
While the hospital expansion is the smaller part of the overall project, with the majority of money and resources focused on building a new and improved care center, the hospital portion has been far less publicized.
“Grand River owns the care center and hospital, so the two improvements at the same time make sense because they both should grow jointly,” said Joe Carpenter with Keep Care Local. “We need to diversify our economy, and what better way than with critical health care.”
Keep Care Local states that a yes vote on 4A on the November ballot protects 86 jobs at the care center and creates another 200 new local jobs.
The new E. Dene Moore Care Center would also double in bed capacity and include a memory care and Alzheimer’s unit, which the current facility lacks.
The current E. Dene Moore center, which is 50 years old, is able to accept only one out of five people who request services, Kenda Spaulding, administrative director of long-term care at the center, previously said. That adds up to over 200 patients denied each year. A replacement center would increase from the number of beds from 50 to between 90 and 100. Each patient would have a private room with a window.
“The building is in need of complete repair, I think we have been really lucky to have that building here. I think the consequences would be devastating” if the care center were to close, Rifle City Council candidate Barbara Clifton, who now is mayor, said at a candidate forum earlier this year.