Morenci Area Hospital: City council made the correct decision 2009.12.16

Morenci Area Hospital is coming down. The building was once the pride of Morenci and a very important place for residents from Lyons to Waldron and from Clayton to Fayette, but those days are long gone.

Changes in health care brought an end to small-town hospitals throughout America and Morenci Area Hospital—once so vital to local medical care—won’t even make it to age 50.

There’s been considerable discussion around town about whether we’ll regret the decision to demolish the building.

People still talk about how Stair Auditorium should have been saved and how grand Hotel Saulsbury would look downtown instead of a gas station. We can’t argue with either of those opinions, but we’re not sure either makes practical sense.

The funding needed to save either of those structures—and the funding needed for maintenance and upgrades—would likely have amounted to more than the city could have afforded.

It’s the problem with money once again when it comes to Morenci Area Hospital. Does the city budget have extra funds to maintain and repair the building, to pay the expensive costs of operation? And for what purpose? Does the city have funding to refurbish it for another use?

And what if city council said to let it stand, only to find out five years down the road that funding isn’t available for maintenance. Should the citizens of Morenci then be burdened with the cost of demolition and environmental cleanup?

Our attitudes about the building have changed over the months that the issue has been discussed. At first, it seemed a shame to tear it down. It still is a shame, but we can’t disagree with council’s decision.