- Associated Press - Wednesday, December 17, 2014

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - The Legislature is not likely begin tackling the recommendations of a task force on the future of the state’s five state-run safety net medical facilities until after the upcoming legislative session, officials say.

The task force analyzing the role of Wyoming’s state-run medical facilities presented its final report to the legislature at a Tuesday meeting of the Joint Labor, Health and Social Services committee in Cheyenne.

Committee co-chairman Sen. Charlie Scott, R-Casper, said the report will be a large portion of the Legislature’s work in the interim after this winter’s session.

Tom Forslund, director of the Wyoming Department of Health, said he realizes it’s too late to bring legislation this winter.

“I think the expectation was that the department would move forward and make a request for down payment on capital improvements and that the Legislature would be looking at this over the course of this year and making sure we’re on the right path,” Forslund said.

The proposed plans either streamline or combine the roles of the State Hospital in Evanston and the Wyoming Life Resource Center in Lander in the care of traumatic brain injuries and the developmentally disabled.

Scott said he is concerned, after reviewing the recommendations, about staffing.

“I’m concerned about our ability to get the appropriate professional staff to come to our locations,” Scott told the Casper Star-Tribune (https://bit.ly/1szWE2G). “The concept makes sense, but can we get, in these various locations, the relevant professional staff? We might have to modify our concept a bit to go where the staff is.”

The recommendations call for a major renovation of the Wyoming Veterans’ Home in Basin. Work would save the historic buildings on the site but clear the rest for new facilities that meet the specifications of modern medicine.

Forslund said the department’s first priorities are the streamlining of the State Hospital and the Life Resource Center but that the department would move quickly to work with the Veterans’ Home.

“The veterans’ commission said they know they aren’t No. 1 on the list, but please don’t forget them,” Forslund said. “We know they are there. It’s just a matter of finding the money to move forward.”

The report is the final stage of the task force’s work. Members of the task force included legislators and private sector experts appointed by Gov. Matt Mead. The task force toured the five state-run facilities to inform the drafting of their report.

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Information from: Casper (Wyo.) Star-Tribune, https://www.trib.com

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