‘Pivotal moment’ for Washakie Medical Center

Grand opening unveils complete renovated hospital in Worland

October 12, 2017

By Karla Pomeroy

Northern Wyoming Daily News

Washakie Medical Center

Former and longtime Washakie Medical Center board member Ruth Bower had the honor of handling the cutting duties during the ribbon cutting with Duane Whitlock of ANB Bank, Washakie Medical Center CEO Jay Stallings, Board Chairman Dan Scheuerman and Washakie County Commissioner Aaron Anderson looking on. Banner Health officials from Phoenix, Arizona, and Secretary of State Ed Murray were also part of the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the WMC grand opening Tuesday.

WORLAND — City, county and state officials were among the dignitaries and the large crowd of residents that gathered for the grand opening of the new Banner Health Washakie Medical Center Tuesday night.

“Congratulations Worland and Washakie Medical Center. This is a pivotal moment in the history, not only of this center, but also of this community,” Wyoming Secretary of State Ed Murray said during his opening remarks.

He said the project was able to come to fruition through a partnership that “includes the best of what happens in Wyoming, what can happen. It’s not necessarily happening in the same way throughout this great state, but this is a model. I’m serious when I say the eyes of Wyoming, and the leadership of Wyoming is looking at this fine community as an example, as a model.”

While still at the location on 15th Street, the project, seven years in the making, included a new patient wing with 12 patient rooms and 16 beds, plus two labor and delivery rooms dedicated to obstetrics. Rooms are larger with some accommodating double occupancy based on demand to provide a total of 18 licensed beds; a new surgical suite with two large, state-of-the-art operating rooms and one endoscopy suite; new preoperative and post-operative recovery areas; renovations to accommodate a new emergency department; expanded, new laboratory and pharmacy; new respiratory therapy, chemotherapy and endoscopy areas and a renovated front entry with impacts to the admitting, business office, waiting room and gift shop.

Funding for renovations was obtained through Washakie County in the form of a bond via ANB bank of Worland. Washakie County Commissioner Aaron Anderson, during opening ceremonies Tuesday noted the State Loan and Investment Board helped fill in some gaps for the project.

It was also noted that when needed Banner Health stepped up to help buy equipment for the project.

Jim Fernando, president of the western division for Banner Health, said, "I just want to tell you how proud I am of this facility. We've had a very long relationship with this community, dates back to the 1950s with the old Lutheran system. The board and I began talking about this project about seven years ago. It takes a long time to pull something like this off."

He said together with the board and the county they were able to get the project completed. He also thanked the contractors, bankers and Banner Health. "This takes the whole village. This doesn't happen overnight," he said.

Fernando added, "I especially want to thank the staff and the medical staff because you had to live through three years of hell and you had to provide excellent patient care through that whole time and you have."

Banner Health Chief Operating Officer Becky Kuhn said, "On behalf of Peter Fine, the CEO of Banner Health and Banner Health's board of directors, I am delighted to be here and want to congratulate first ,the county commissioners, the board of trustees for the amazing work and commitment that you've had. What a vision and what a commitment to the health services in this market. I think with what you've now created you will be a draw from, well you shouldn't stop at just northwest Wyoming, you should be thinking well beyond that. This is a magnificent facility. I have been to every single facility in Banner Health and there is no facility that offers more than you have right here."

She added, "You have every patient safety feature that's available at any other organization in Banner and that says a lot. You have a real treasure and real pearl right here."

Washakie County Commissioner Aaron Anderson said, "What an exciting day for Washakie County. Good people, great partnerships, I think these things have made this one of the nicest medical facilities, certainly in northern Wyoming and maybe all over in Wyoming."

He added, "In a world where rural hospitals are going broke at an alarming rate I think this project is a flagship for public-private partnerships. We've laid the ground work here for a thriving medical community."

And just prior to the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Board Chairman Dan Scheuerman closed remarks by saying, "I just want to say thank you to all of you for coming to this wonderful facility to view it. If you haven't seen it, you're going to be amazed."