Governor Jared Polis Signs Legislation Supporting Frontier and Rural Hospitals
June 5, 2023

[Byers, CO] – [June 3, 2023] – – In a significant occasion for Colorado’s frontier and rural hospitals, Governor Jared Polis visited Lincoln Health Byers Clinic, to sign Colorado Senate Bill 23-298, the Rural and Frontier Hospital Cooperation Act, into law. This landmark legislation, sponsored by Senator Bob Gardner, Senator Dylan Roberts, Representative Rod Bockenfeld, and Representative Karen McCormick, marks a significant step forward in reducing costs, improving quality, and increasing access to healthcare for frontier and rural communities across the state.

Lincoln Health CEO Kevin Stansbury expressed his gratitude, stating, “Thank you to Attorney General Phil Weiser and HCPF Executive Director Kim Bimestefer for realizing that this legislation will provide the state’s smallest and most vulnerable hospitals a path to help reduce costs, improve quality, and increase access to care to some of Colorado’s most underserved communities. Frontier and rural hospitals will now have the ability to work more closely together to achieve these important goals.”

John Hart, CEO Wray Community District Hospital added, “This bipartisan legislation is a culmination of years work to allow Colorado’s frontier hospitals to collaborate effectively. Special recognition is for Kevin Stansbury who has for years promoted and carried this project forward.”

The signing ceremony, held in Byers, Colorado, brought together local officials, healthcare professionals, and community members to witness the Governor’s commitment to supporting frontier and rural healthcare.

Senate Bill 23-298 allows frontier and rural hospitals to collaborate on purchasing medical supplies, equipment, and other critical resources. This cooperation will enable frontier and rural hospitals to increase their purchasing power without violating antitrust laws. By leveraging collective strength and resources, rural hospitals can lower costs, expand specialized care options, and ultimately enhance healthcare outcomes for rural Coloradans.

The legislation received overwhelming support in both chambers of the Colorado General Assembly, reflecting the recognition of the urgent need to support frontier and rural hospitals.

“We were delighted to work with our frontier and rural hospitals and the Attorney General’s office to bring SB23-298 into law,” said Kim Bimestefer, Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing. “This bill will enable these hospitals to collaborate in ways that meaningfully improve access to care, quality, and affordability for Coloradans in our most remote communities, while supporting the financial sustainability of rural hospitals.”

The passage of the Rural and Frontier Hospital Cooperation Act was supported by the Colorado Hospital Association (CHA), according to CHA’s CEO, Jeff Tiemen, “This is an example of the hospitals in the state working together to create constructive solutions to improve the care for vulnerable communities. Like Denver Health in the city, these hospitals serve as safety net providers to vast areas of the state. We were proud to support this effort.”

About Wray Community District Hospital

Ranked among the top 100 Critical Access Hospitals by the Chartis Group, Wray Community District Hospital is a 15 bed, critical access hospital built in 1995, and located in Wray, Colorado. A five-member board of directors governs the Hospital and ensures that medical services are available to the residents of Wray and surrounding areas. Wray Hospital also includes a family practice clinic that was added in 2003. 

Wray Hospital shows big volume trends with 1,250 surgeries per year, nearly 800 Outpatient Therapy patients, and 500 Cardiac Rehabilitation and adult fitness patients and participants.   Radiology and Laboratory provide a combined 42,000 procedures or imaging services.  The hospital delivers around 150 babies per year.  The Physical Therapy department and Specialty Clinic both see 8,000 patients a year, and the family practice has nearly 20,000 patient visits per year. 

The Wray Community District Hospital and Clinic is one of the largest employers in the area, with 160 team members.  The family practice has 5 family physicians, 2 physician assistants, and as a North Colorado Family Medicine rural training program site, 2 resident physicians.

Related Articles