The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Melrose health clinic may close

 

November 11, 2018

Jamie Cushman

Roosevelt General Hospital staff and Chief Executive Officer Kaye Green, right, address citizens during Wednesday's town hall meeting at Melrose Senior Center.

MELROSE - After eight years providing medical services to the people of Melrose and surrounding communities, the Melrose Health Clinic appears on the verge of closing.

That was the message Roosevelt General Hospital Chief Executive Officer Kaye Green and hospital staff shared with just over a dozen people during an hour-long town hall meeting at the Melrose Senior Center on Wednesday.

Green said the decision to close the clinic in Melrose was a financial one, noting the clinic lost money all four years it was operated by RGH. Were it to remain open, losses of about $160,000 would be expected annually, officials said.

"I just want to assure you all that RGH, we want to be here," Green said. "If we can find a way to work through this to make this viable for you all and for us, we very much want to be here. We want to come back."

The clinic is expected to close at year's end, though area residents and officials vowed to fight closure.

Green said increases in hospital costs and decreases in insurance compensation have made RGH's margins so tight that the $1.4 million in gross receipts tax revenue the hospital receives from Roosevelt County each year is the difference between operating in the red or in the black.

She said the rural health clinic needs to average 20 patients a day to break even, while the Melrose clinic was seeing around six to eight daily patients.

Curry County Manager Lance Pyle said the area's Congressional delegation is aware of the clinic's financial situation and looking for potential federal dollars to subsidize the clinic, as well as governor-elect Michelle Lujan Grisham.

"This community rallied behind it when we didn't have a clinic 10 years ago and the clinic's been here eight years," Pyle said. "The community needs to rally behind this and ... we need the community to step up."

If that does not happen, Pyle said the county plans to issue a request for proposal for an operator and provider for the clinic in early 2019, though that may be for a part-time operation.

"The county recognizes the need and we are going to do anything we can to work something out at the clinic to stay open or find another provider to provide services," Pyle said. "The county has been extremely pleased with the work RGH has done the last four years."

Donna Bigler said the clinic has been her only health care provider for the five years she's lived in the area and that its importance can't be overstated.

It's very (important); on a scale of one to 10, a 10," Bigler said. There's too many seniors, there's too many elderly," that don't have the capability to travel out of town for health care.

Kristi Cargile, program coordinator for the Melrose Senior Center, said she believes the clinic's closing will negatively effect a number of her members.

Cargile said that while the senior center does provide transportation services, it does not have the resources to bring a large number of people to and from RGH's existing facility in Portales and pending facility in Clovis on a consistent basis.

Melrose Mayor Barry Green said he does not want to raise taxes but saving the clinic may be a good enough reason to increase gross receipts tax or property tax revenue.

He said the village will look at a number of different possibilities to increase use of the clinic, including potentially a partnership with the school district for athletics physicals.

"Let's go to work," Green said.

 

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