MINDEN - A Minden man thinks more doctors would come to Carson Valley if a hospital opened in Douglas County. So he wants to put one in Indian Hills.
Robert Pohlman, a financial planner who has lived in Minden for six years, has taken his proposal to the Carson-Tahoe Hospital board and will probably ask Douglas County leaders for their opinion in August.
He wants C-TH to ask the Bureau of Land Management for a 20-acre parcel between Sunridge and the Carson City line. The acreage is empty but is now being mapped for future use.
Pohlman thinks C-TH could obtain the land under the federal recreation and public purposes act for a future hospital campus, paying as little as $2 per acre per year for a lease or purchasing it for $10 per acre.
He says a hospital would bring more doctors to the Carson Valley by cutting their commute time to C-TH. His request was inspired by the relocation of two doctors from Minden to Carson City.
"Right now, it's like a revolving door down here," Pohlman said. "I'm hoping to make it easier on the doctors."
He also cited future growth projections that put Douglas County's 2010 population at more than 60,000, as well as the number of Carson Valley residents that go to C-TH now.
C-TH officials said they'll study the need for a hospital in Douglas County, as well as the feasibility of obtaining the land and the possibility of forming a hospital district, if Douglas leaders support the concept.
"We don't want to be the initiators of this project, but we would become part of it if Douglas County would invite us to do so," said C-TH administrator Steve Smith. "We're not going to force it on anybody."
Hospital trustee Pete Livermore said a future hospital facility will depend on what Douglas County residents want.
"Douglas County and the residents would have to share the risk," he said. "As a community hospital, we don't have the leeway to make the investment and we don't feel it's prudent to make that investment without the support or cooperation of the county."
One potential way to fund a hospital would be to create a special district covering the facility's service area. Douglas County Manager Dan Holler's response to the idea was lukewarm.
"I'm not sure we need another district," he said.
Plus, said Holler, no studies of an ideal location for a Douglas County hospital have been done and there's no specific mention for one in the county's master plan.
"We don't see a need. Nothing has really been expressed," said Holler. "It doesn't prevent it from going forward. If the hospital wants to take a look then OK, but I doubt there will be a push to spend a lot of energy on it."
Even so, Smith said Pohlman's idea has merit.
"I think (a Douglas County hospital) is reasonable, whether it was run by a local group or another entity," he said. "Eventually, you will have your own hospital down there."