Senator Bennet visits Kremmling |

Senator Bennet visits Kremmling

Hank Shell
U.S. Senator Michael Bennet, left, speaks with MPMC Interim CEO and CFO Robert Flake and MPMC CNO Deb Plemmons in Kremmling on Friday, Feb. 5. Bennet was traveling to raise awareness about the challenges that rural hospitals in Colorado face.
Hank Shell / Sky-Hi News |

U.S. Senator Michael Bennet met with Middle Park Medical Center officials in Kremmling on Friday, Feb. 5 to discuss the organization’s recently acquired USDA Loan.

Bennet also visited Yampa Valley Medical Center on a tour meant to highlight the challenges rural hospitals in Colorado face.

Members of the Kremmling Memorial Hospital District Board, MPMC Interim CEO and CFO Robert Flake, and Centura Health Senior Vice President of Network Development Russ Johnson spoke with Bennet in the district conference room before giving him a tour of MPMC-Kremmling.

Officials recounted to Bennet the organization’s struggle with what it asserts were adversarial bondholders who sought to bring the system into receivership after it defaulted on debt used to fund the construction of MPMC-Granby.

MPMC secured a $24 million loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture in September 2015 to help it pay of the remaining $22.4 million and avert receivership.

Bennet recalled that, while working for the Anschutz Investment Company in Denver, he occasionally encountered similarly obdurate personalities.

“They’re unpleasant and argumentative, and that’s why they’re in the business,” Bennet said. “That’s an expression of their personality.”

Had the district not received the USDA loan, Flake said the Kremmling facility might have closed indefinitely.

“I think the Kremmling facility would have closed and never opened back up, in my opinion,” Flake said.

Board member Jeff Miller said the organization “barely had enough money to make payroll” before it secured the USDA loan.

Johnson with Centura added that he felt constructing the Granby facility to support the Kremmling hospital was a good move on the district’s part.

“A healthcare facility in this community by itself, standing alone isn’t going to make it, but these people still need healthcare as much as the people in Granby do, or Denver,” Johnson said.

Officials also raised the issue of increasing health insurance costs with Bennet.

Board members Miller and Bernie Murphy said they had purchased non-Affordable Care Act compliant healthcare plans that were still cheaper than the alternative under the ACA.

Bennet said he would put them in touch with state officials to whom they could relate their concerns.

Hank Shell can be reached at 970-557-6010.

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