(Riverton, Wyo.) – SageWest CEO Alan Daugherty told local leaders today he wants to keep a presence in Riverton, but it’s going to take the community’s help to get it done. This, on the heels of a landslide of negative claims and rumors circulating in recent weeks about the status of the hospital in Riverton — including a letter published last week by a newly formed group, called, Citizens to Save Our Riverton Hospital.
Over 80 residents of the Riverton area showed up Wednesday night at the Riverton Branch Library Community Room to discuss options on how to “save” Riverton’s SageWest Hospital.
Former Mayor John Vincent emphasized at the beginning of the meeting that the group “wants to work cooperatively with LifePoint, the owner of the local hospital, to return service to the level it was at three years ago,” he said. “We are not here to create headaches, we want solutions.”
Vincent pointed out early that LifePoint Health is a national privately held health care organization based in Nashville, Tenn., with over 70 rural hospitals in some 23 states. LifePoint was recently merged with Apollo Global Management, LLC. The two local for-profit hospitals under the LifePoint umbrella are SageWest Lander and SageWest Riverton.
Vincent said there has been a “steep, steep and precipitous decline in the number of physicians and nurses at the hospital, “and we’re bound and determined to get services back. We want to work with LifePoint to work for a common goal. Right now it feels like we’ve been abandoned and left alone.”
But, the narrative of two equal hospitals isn’t a reality according to Daugherty, who’s been transparent to community leaders and the group who organized the meeting.
“Fundamentally, as a business, we’re unable to support two of everything and serve such a small population,” he said.
Ultimately, Daugherty said, LifePoint relies on the individual hospitals, like SageWest and their leadership, to make the right decisions that will provide the best possible healthcare locally.
Josephine Gilpatrick asked the crowd “to stop the rumors if they hear one.” She said the community needs to “support and grow local businesses, including the hospital.”
Leaders Meet Again
At a working group meeting today in Riverton, Daugherty told local leaders that it’s in everyone’s best interest to stop the rumors and start working together to keep a vibrant acute care Hospital in Riverton.
Senator Eli Bebout, echoed Alan’s concern for support and asked the group to to take immediate steps to help educate the community on what’s happening.
Representatives Tim Salazar and Dave Miller were in attendance today joining the working group that began meeting just last week to address their concerns.
The working group which began meeting last week agreed that rumors that are perpetuating decline in patient numbers could force an unfavorable different outcome for the hospital as we know it.
Open and Operating
SageWest COO, Dan Springer, clarified last week, that the hospital is open for business — just as it has been all along.
“Our first priority is to help the community understand — we’re here and we’re open,” said Springer. “Currently, we’re operating two full service acute hospitals including emergency care being provided 24 hours a day.”
Newly appointed SageWest board member, Mike Bailey explained in a letter last week, “Rumors and speculation are common in these very complex conversations and we are all subject to multiple information sources of varying legitimacy. We all need to be very careful when gathering and disseminating information. We need to make sure that information is honest, factual and accurate. I understand that this conversation is not an easy one but I believe that Riverton is more than up to the task in front of us. A positive outlook is very important to moving the issue forward.”