(Riverton, WY) – For the first time in over a year the Riverton Medical District (RMD) was able to host an in-person community meeting on Monday evening, June 7th. Numerous community members were in attendance filling a large portion of the Robert A. Peck Art Center lower floor seating at Central Wyoming College.
The meeting included updates from the RMD about what transpired during the pandemic year which prevented community meetings, their current position and what is ahead. Billings Clinic representatives, Regional Chief Medical Officer Dr. Clint Seger and Regional Operations Vice President Nicole Hobbs, also addressed attendees about the recently announced affiliation intent with RMD.
2020 was focused on securing the required equity for a loan through the USDA Community Facilities Program, shared Corte McGuffey, of the RMD. In order to raise the 10% required by the USDA, they held pledge and donation drives and worked to get the 1/2 percent sales tax for economic development passed (which they were recently allocated funds from). They also attempted to obtain funding through two other avenues including CARES Act but were not eligible due to the strict requirements as well as bonding which also did not work out due to not being established.
They are still putting the “finishing touches” on the financials and equity, McGuffey noted. Monetary donations and pledges have added up to $1.3M so far. Those who have pledged should “be prepared to write your checks” sometime in July since they have started the application process and anticipate having it completed this month. Submitting portions of the application as they are completed, will hopefully lead to a preliminary approval at the State level to move forward with the project by late July.
Part of the application process with the USDA is showing there is community support for the hospital. Nearly 700 letters of support, which is the most the Casper USDA Office has ever had for a single project, have been sent in so far and will continue to be accepted until the application is complete – likely by the end of June.
Another recent development for the RMD is their Letter of Intent to pursue affiliation and clinical partnership with the Billings Clinic, a “Montana-based, community-owned and governed, not-for-profit” that is the largest independent healthcare system in this region, Dr. Seger shared during the Monday meeting.
They are also the exclusive partner for the Mayo Clinic Care Network for Montana and northern Wyoming.
Dr. Seger also discussed their commitment to rural health and experiences in both Wyoming and Montana. The Riverton hospital would join 16 other Billings Clinic health care facilities across both states; Wyoming relationships include Basin, Cody, Lovell, Powell, Sheridan, Thermopolis and Worland.
The meeting wrapped up with a Q&A session. Hospital size was one question – the feasibility study volume projections dictated the size of the facility which is currently planned at 60,000 square feet, 14-16 beds, 2 surgical suites and a procedure room, according to McGuffey. Though smaller than expected, their goals for services offered still stand.
A fall 2021 groundbreaking could be possible depending on the final National USDA Office approval which would happen after the State gives the preliminary approval. If that does happen, construction would likely begin in the spring of 2022 and an 18-month construction timeline is projected leading to a fall 2023 opening.
This hospital would bring approximately 140 jobs to the community, McGuffey noted. That number does not include the construction jobs which is expected to be around 100. They also plan to use as many local contractors as possible.
The meeting was live-streamed to the Riverton Medical District Facebook page and can be watched by clicking here.
County 10 will share the latest updates on the Riverton Medical District as information comes available.
To read all of County 10’s previous and future coverage of the Riverton Medical District, click here.