Veterans Affairs clinic contract up for bid

Mike Gillmore, vice president of physician services at Powell Valley Healthcare, said Sterling Healthcare runs Veterans Affairs clinics throughout the country.

“They just bid like we did,” he said. “This isn’t anything new, it’s not surprising to us and we’re not caught off guard. It’s a normal part of the process.”

He noted that West Park Hospital did not put in a bid for the contract.

“Our understanding is, if (Sterling Healthcare) gets the contract, they would be setting up a clinic in Cody. They would use West Park Hospital lab services and lease office space from the hospital. They would hire a physician and probably a couple of nurses to run a VA clinic.”

Currently, veterans are able to obtain health care from any of the seven doctors with Powell Valley Healthcare who have been approved by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Those doctors are Mike Bohlman, Robert Chandler, Kelly Christensen, Valerie Langfelder, Terry Reisner, Betsy Spomer and Mike Tracy. Veterans Affairs recently installed computers for each doctor in exam rooms of the new Powell Valley Clinic.

Gillmore said Sterling Healthcare and Powell Valley Healthcare both put bids in for the contract five years ago, and Powell Valley Healthcare won the contract.

“I’m hopeful that we’ll get the (contract) renewal,” he said. “We’re providing excellent health care to veterans, and we have a good relationship with the VA. I hope we will be able to continue.

“We have veterans coming in from all over the Big Horn Basin,” he said. “If they’re in Lovell, it’s closer to come to Powell (than to Cody).”

Gillmore said he and other employees at Powell Valley Healthcare had gotten calls from patients who are upset by the possibility that they would have to change doctors if the VA clinic moved to Cody.

“We feel very good about the relationship we have with the VA, and we’re hopeful that the government will award us the updated contract,” said Powell Valley Healthcare spokesman Jim Cannon. But he added, “Until the contract is signed, we’re not totally comfortable.”

If Powell Valley Healthcare did not win the contract, “it would impact us financially ... there’s no question about it.”

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