The Grant County Commission may vote soon on what may be the biggest decision the commission has made in our lifetimes: To sell or not to sell our community hospital - Gila Regional Medical Center.

There are no easy solutions to GRMC’s lingering financial problems and while the decision to remain independent does not come without risk, I have publically stated that I don’t support the sale of the hospital and will vote for GRMC to remain independently owned.

Here’s why:
A lot has changed since we began asking serious questions about the financial condition of the county owned hospital. Then, Gila Regional seemed headed for almost certain bankruptcy, having lost $22M in six years; including the loss of over $6 million in fiscal 2017 alone. The commission had every right and even the responsibility to ask questions and demand transparency. Gila Regional was suffering financially from mistakes of prior administrations - what new GRMC Chief Financial Officer Richard Stokes calls “A Self-inflicted wound."

The final blow was the decision last year to change provider of services at the Cancer Center with no transition plan in place, resulting in the cancer center effectively closing down for an extended time; a decision with a human and financial toll from which some in the community and GRMC have still not fully recovered.

What has since changed? Accountability and Transparency as requested by County Commission from the Board of Trustees and GRMC administration seems now to be sufficiently forthcoming. Monthly reporting to the Commission by GRMC administration is now providing significantly more detailed information than before and administration is now able to provide the Trustees with the information they need to provide successful oversight. On April 12, the commission was presented with a sound strategic financial plan from GRMC administration and trustees. This plan, if wisely implemented will result in a turnaround from average annual losses of over $3M into gains of $7M or more, providing capital for deferred maintenance and other necessary expenditures at GRMC. If the turnaround materializes, it will demonstrate the current management’s ability to sustainably operate the hospital, and the resulting stability will open opportunities to raise additional capital, grow services, and increase market share.

Trustees, Administrators, and local physicians have thanked the commission for our actions which brought attention to the urgency of the financial problems at GRMC. The trustees are working long hard hours without pay to bring big changes to GRMC. I will never agree with the cancer center decision because of the way it was executed without a transition, but selling the hospital is not an appropriate or necessary solution. The public expects the trustees and the commissioners to work together toward a better hospital for the community, and the two groups have started this process.
A few reasons (not all) why I am opposed to the sale of Gila Regional Medical Center?

1. Once we go down this road we can never come back. Our community owned hospital (with any chance of local control) will be gone forever.

2. GRMC is a 4 Star Hospital, Leapfrog “A” rating, and ranked in the top 100 rural hospitals in the US.

3. The sale is overwhelmingly opposed by citizens, physicians, GRMC employees, trustees and administration. The task force and the review panel set up by the county, including 5 area physicians, have mostly voiced their desire for GRMC to remain independent.

4. Gila Regional Medical Center (under new management) has already began a financial turnaround. While GRMC is still losing money, losses for the fiscal year ended June 30 were (roughly) only 8% of the previous year’s losses.

5. GRMC has presented an excellent, detailed, long term strategic financial plan that should not only allow GRMC to avoid bankruptcy, but even to thrive financially. We need to give this plan a chance.

6. Transparency and Accountability are now forthcoming.

7. In my opinion, an acceptable substantial offer from a strong company has not materialized.

8. There is no known plan as to how Grant County will spend the money received from the sale of GRMC.

I’m confident that our community hospital can continue to remain independent as it has for over 80 years. Gila Regional can prosper under the right leadership, but diligent oversight must continue into the future or GRMC will find itself in a bad financial position again at some future date.

I agree with county task force member Dr. Michelle Diaz when she said, – “It’s important in my opinion that we have held the hospital accountable”. Several more physicians and others have also agreed and suggested that diligent oversite must continue.

GRMC still has some serious financial problems and much work is needed to take the hospital from where it is now to where it needs to be. Even though the plan to remain independent is not without risk, GRMC can prosper under the right leadership. Now is not the time to sell.
We can be the commission that saved the hospital – not the commission that sold out and gave up.

Billy Billings, Grant County Commissioner District IV

Live from Silver City

Join GCB Three Times Weekly Updates

Welcome to Three Times Weekly Updates! You will be subscribed to email notifications with links to recently posted articles.
You can unsubscribe anytime. We never share or rent your email to anyone.

Fire Alerts

Editor's Note

Check out a new column that will talk about the town of Silver City and its news and services. 

Those new to providing news releases to the Beat are asked to please check out submission guidelines at http://www.grantcountybeat.com/about/submissions. They are for your information to make life easier on the readers, as well as the editor.

Classifieds: Check periodically to see if any news ones have popped up. Welcome to our new version of classified ads.  We invite you our readers to post your own classifieds, which are available for viewing 24/7 and are very reasonable in price, because you do all the work yourselves. A recent classified for a van brought a sale within two days. It's really easy to check to see if there's a classified ad. Just click on Classifieds in the blue menu and the page will open letting you know if there is a classified ad. Remember that your buying classified ads gives you a wide readership, as well as supporting the Beat. Post YOURS for quick results!

Images: We have received complaints about large images blocking parts of other articles. If you encounter this problem, click on the title of the article you want to read and it will take you to that article's page, which shows only that article without any intruders. It's a software problem, not easily fixable, other than showing fewer articles per summary page. If you are a frequent visitor, you might not mind fewer articles per page, but if you only come once in a while, you likely want to see more articles to browse. Write me at editor@grantcountybeat.com to let me know your feelings on this issue. 

Compliance: Because you are an esteemed member of The Grant County Beat readership, be assured that we at the Beat continue to do everything we can to be in full compliance with GDPR and pertinent US law, so that the information you have chosen to give to us cannot be compromised. 

New Columnists: The Beat continues to bring you new columnists.Recent additions  include one about end of life options, Compassionate Care.

The Beat has a column for you gardeners out there. The Grant County Extension Service will bring you monthly columns on gardening issues. The first one posted is on Winterizing your houseplants and patio plants.

The Beat totally appreciates its readers and subscribers!  


All articles and photos indicated by a byline are copyrighted to the author or photographer. You may not use any information found within the articles without asking permission AND giving attribution to the source. Photos can be requested and may incur a nominal fee for use personally or commercially.

NOTE: If an article does not have a byline, it was sent to the Beat and written by someone not affiliated with the Beat

Don't forget to tell advertisers that you saw their ad on the Beat.

Newsletter: If you subscribe to the Join GCB Three Times Weekly Updates option on the left side of this page, you will be subscribed to email notifications with links to recently posted articles.

Here for YOU: Consider the Beat your DAILY newspaper for up-to-date information about Grant County. It's at your fingertips! One Click to Local News.

Feel free to notify editor@grantcountybeat.com, if you notice any problems on the site. Your convenience is my desire for the Beat.

Thanks for your support for and your readership of Grant County's online news source—www.grantcountybeat.com