Community group advances Riverton healthcare discussion

Members of the Riverton Hospital Community Leadership Group, the Save Our Riverton Healthcare community group and administrators from Sage West Hospital met recently to improve healthcare offerings. The goal:

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  • Working together to expand surgical services including after-hour and weekend capabilities at the Riverton location;
  • Promoting Riverton in the physician recruitment process;
  • Assessing community health needs and evaluating service viability, and;
  • Developing avenues for increased positive community engagement.

Surgical services are currently available at the Riverton site during regular hours, to accommodate elective and/or planned surgical needs. Services are scheduled to increase once cross matching training is completed. Sage West administrators explained this is a temporary issue that is expected to be resolved by the end of the calendar year, providing doctors the full
complement of support at that time.

Returning after-hours and weekend surgical services to Riverton requires significant doctor recruitment efforts that have been underway for some time now.

24/7 surgical services in Riverton could restart as early as mid-2019, however it could be much later. – Alan Daugherty, SageWest CEO

Behind the caveat is the understanding that doctors being recruited now will likely not finish their training until 2019 or even 2020, so the return of services could be as much as a year later. Even that is dependent on successful recruitment efforts.

A common discussion point is the recruitment of doctors who would call Riverton home. In a collaborative effort to support this goal, all parties are working to provide Riverton representation during upcoming recruitment efforts for physicians. This collaborative effort is expected to be an ongoing effort in all future recruitments. Both the hospital and the community group had been planning community health care need assessments, including a survey the community group launched Oct. 1.

Those efforts are expected to continue with the community group sharing their results with the hospital. The community group hopes to have that survey completed quickly, by Nov. 1, to give “down time” for the public before a separate survey is launched. The hospital will consider and review their assessment activities separately to address their specific needs. All three of the groups at the meeting agreed to look for avenues to develop constructive avenues for community engagement. An example of this type of activity would be the re-launch of health fairs that SageWest had previously coordinated and sponsored in both Lander and Riverton.

Additionally, the community group is soliciting citizens to submit stories of extraordinary service or efforts they received from local healthcare professionals for promotion at a later date. “We have a lot of work to do and a lot we want to accomplish,” said community group representative Josephine Gilpatrick, “but we don’t want to lose sight of the current efforts of those that work to keep us healthy and alive right now.”

As the meeting ended on a positive note, Mayor Lars Baker acknowledged that these efforts are about more than healthcare. “We’re looking at economic development, quality of life, and the impact of comprehensive healthcare services. Our ultimate goal is to ensure that Riverton continues to be a great place to live and raise a family.”

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