Dear Editor:

Heart of the Rockies Regional Medical Center has been extremely fortunate to receive an unwavering amount of community support over the years, which has helped the hospital become the largest employer in Chaffee County.

And while the Salida Hospital District­, as a public entity, cannot offer a point of view on this topic, as a resident of the area and business leader on the board of the Chaffee County Economic Development Corp., I see the direct benefits of providing educational opportunities close to home.

In my role as hospital CEO, I understand that HRRMC’s continued growth presents both immensely positive outcomes as well as challenges.

Through the expansion and capabilities of the hospital’s offerings, citizens now have access to a wide variety of services that previously required a trip to the Front Range or Colorado Springs.

This directly helps improve the quality of life of our community.

However, continued growth also presents hurdles, primarily in the form of staffing.

Finding and maintaining skilled workers living in a community with significant housing affordability issues is a problem the hospital faces on a daily basis.

I believe that accessibility to educational resources at a local level is a critical step toward addressing these challenges.

On its own, HRRMC lacks the full resources to provide this kind of high-level training.

Fortunately, we have the opportunity to collaborate with Colorado Mountain College to fill in those gaps. I am excited about the potential of this collaboration and all of the skilled hospital jobs it will allow us to fill in an effort to better serve the needs of our community.

In addition, I am a strong advocate of providing a solution that will allow nursing school students to continue to live here while completing their RN degree.

I believe that HRRMC and the entire community would benefit from having CMC establish programs in Chaffee County.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Bob Morasko