Friends of the WRC work to spare facility

By Kynli Smith

The first Friends of the Wyoming Retirement Center meeting, held Sunday in Basin, attracted more than 20 people from across the Big Horn Basin and featured considerable discussion on what would happen if the WRC closes.

The attendees included family members, concerned citizens, WRC employees and community leaders. Among their fears is that moving 94 residents from the area would have a domino effect on surrounding hospitals including West Park, Washakie Medical and Hot Springs because the majority of the residents receive their lab testing and health care from doctors at these facilities.

“I think that the residents receive great care,” said Greybull Area Chamber of Commerce Director Selena Brown. “And second, the Town of Basin and the State of Wyoming have spent considerable amounts of money to update and remodel the facility so why repeat that process in another town? There are two members of the executive task force from Fremont and two from Natrona and one from Lincoln/Sublette/Teton.”

There are also concerns for Big Horn County School District No. 4 because if WRC employees move out of the community, the district’s enrollment will be affected.

Basin Mayor Denis Peters, who attended the meeting, encouraged people to write to their representatives.

“If we don’t do anything, nothing will happen,” Peters said. “The town has put a lot of money into upgrading our systems to help accommodate them up there. They are also one of the town’s major employers.”

Peters also stated the town will be drafting a letter to send to the state soon.

According to the Joint Legislative-Executive Task Force November 2014 interim report, the task force has four different options for the committee of health to recommend for legislation: Option 1A, Option 1B, Option 2 and Option 3.

Options 1A and 1B have a “one campus long streets” approach, Option 2 has a “status quo plus upgrades” approach and Option 3 has a “one facility” approach.

Option 1A ranked second in estimated cost savings and listed the estimated capital requirements as “to be determined.”

In option 1B, all facilities would work together to treat populations requiring acute, intermediate or long-term care, according to the report.

The report stated that, “The Wyoming State Hospital would focus on acute crisis stabilization, the Wyoming Life and Resource Center would focus on intermediate care and the Wyoming Retirement Center would focus on long-term care. Option 1B ranked second in the order of preference by the task force, ranked third in estimated cost savings and estimated capital requirements were $113 million.

Option 2 is the “status quo” according to the report. The option would implement the upgrades and address the construction requirements.  It was ranked third in the task force’s preference; ranked fourth in estimated cost savings and had an estimated capital requirement of $113 million.

Option 3 is the “one facility” option. According to the task’s force report, Option 3 would be “the most drastic.” All three facilities would close and a new facility would be constructed with a consolidated campus and multiple licensures. It ranked last in preference, but ranked first in estimated cost savings. The estimated capital requirements were listed as $90 million.

The task force will have until January to finalize its recommendations and options and will present those ideas to the Joint Labor, Health and Social Services Interim Committee. The committee will then vote and recommend options and ideas to the state legislature.  No major changes in current policy and legislation will occur until after the state legislature votes on the committee’s recommendation.

Friends of the WRC have about 500 post cards for citizens to fill out in Basin and Greybull to be sent to state legislators. The first location is at Gone Fishing Bait N’ Tackle, located at 257 S. Fourth St. in Basin. The second location is at 436 Greybull Ave. in Greybull.  They have also set up a Save the Wyoming Retirement Center page on Facebook.