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North County hospital idea is DOA

by Christy Chalmers, Staff writer

A Minden man’s bid to get support for a study on a hospital in north Douglas County died on arrival in the county commission’s hands.

The commissioners unanimously refused a request Thursday by Robert Pohlman for a letter to Carson-Tahoe Hospital supporting an idea to study the need for a hospital in Douglas County and possibly seek 20 acres north of Sunridge for a future site.

The board members said far more information is needed before they would act on the idea, but if C-TH officials think a hospital is warranted, they can propose one.

“I think when we get a real proposal, we’ll give it some real discussion,” said commission chairman Jacques Etchegoyhen.

Pohlman says his request is based on a concern about doctors leaving Carson Valley. He thinks more doctors would keep offices in Minden and Gardnerville if they didn’t have to travel to Carson City for a hospital.

Pohlman approached the C-TH board in July and was told if Douglas County leaders indicated support for a feasibility study, the hospital would consider one. Pohlman thinks C-TH could obtain 20 acres of Bureau of Land Management property between the Sunridge subdivision and the county line for a future hospital campus. Under the federal recreation and public purposes act, Pohlman says the hospital could pay as little as $2 per acre per year for a lease or buy it for $10 per acre. The acreage is empty but is now being mapped for future use.

The county commissioners gave several reasons for declining Pohlman’s request, ranging from worries the county would end up paying for a study to how much taxpayers would spend to provide fire protection for a multi-story building.

“It seems like it would be more feasible to expand next to their existing (C-TH) facility rather than build a new facility 15 or 20 miles down the road,” said Commissioner Steve Weissinger, noting C-TH officials have talked of expanding the Carson City campus.

“I definitely can’t support the creation of another general improvement district in Douglas County. The state would laugh at us,” he added.

“If they’re (C-TH officials) interested enough, they can send a letter,” said Commissioner Kelly Kite. “Maybe they’re not really that interested.”

C-TH officials said after Pohlman approached them in July that any Douglas County venture would require county support, both conceptually, and if one proceeded, financially. That could mean creation of another special taxing district. The county already has more than two dozen.

Pohlman said he’s not dropping the idea. He plans to talk to C-TH administrator Steve Smith in coming days.

“I did feel like they (the commissioners) gave me a blank check to go and do whatever I need to do,” he said. “It doesn’t mean I’m going to give up.”