I am not a full time politician and I am more comfortable working cows in the corral at home then I am here as a legislator. I believe it is my civic duty to serve my community and I feel honored to have been elected by you, House District 40, to do just that.

Near the end of last week there was heated discussion about building a Veteran’s Skilled Nursing Facility in Buffalo. I am advocating for the home because of the extensive opportunity for economic growth that it introduces.

The medical doctors, management of the county hospital, and another rest-home operator have been making it very clear that they do not think they can compete for the medical staff at the wages they are now paying. Although I do not know what wage they are paying or what the Veteran’s Skilled Nursing Facility will be paying 3 years from now, when they start staffing, I assume that the VSNF probably will pay a higher wage. The patients at the VSNF will more than likely be a tougher clientele then the ones at the average nursing home. Hence, the reason for moving said patients from wherever they are now to this type of a facility.

As for the availability of more Certified Nurse Assistants three years from now, I don’t think anybody can definitely make accurate predictions. I do know the Sheridan College has said they are going to ramp up their nursing program, with or without the VSNF being located in Buffalo or Casper. I know Casper College, Sheridan, Powell, and Gillette all have nursing programs. If the Buffalo nurses move over to the Veterans Facility these new graduates from these colleges will be looking for a job, hopefully Wyoming will have a place for them.

Casper is doing their best to be the home of the facility. There are quite a few arguments both ways as why one town is better than the other. The discussion has been going on for months and even years as to where the best place is for the Facility. Naturally, as a Vietnam Vet from Buffalo, I feel strongly that the home should be placed in Buffalo. My main reason for Buffalo is the location and open spaces. From a window or porch the patients will have a much better, more relaxing view as compared to Casper’s location next to a cemetery, in town and overlooking the streets. The Veterans will have more than adequate access to great medical care in Buffalo. The veterans hospital is in Sheridan 45 minutes away. The medical community runs a bus from Buffalo to Sheridan 3 times a week for dialysis and other medical needs. There also is a bus from Casper to the VA hospital in Sheridan weekly.

Casper understands the economic value of this facility to the community So does Buffalo. Buffalo City Council, Mayor, County Commissioners and veteran organizations have all spoke for placing the facility in Buffalo. Casper boasts of their great medical facilities, about which they should be proud. Buffalo and Sheridan also have great medical facilities. One more thing, as I have been recently stated, Casper has 42 nursing jobs available, Sheridan 15 and Buffalo has 1 with 3 applications.

As I said, the discussion as where to locate the Veteran Skilled Nursing Facility has been going on for years. We need to resolve the question now. There will be other facilities like this one that will need to be built.


Richard Tass

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