Support a new Riverton Hospital

The community of Riverton has come together to address very serious concerns regarding health care in our town.  In some ways, it is a testament to the very real sense of empowerment a community can feel when we recognize a problem, and address it head on.

In analyzing this, one has to look at the issues that Riverton began to face, and then realize that a very serious problem was developing.

SageWest Health Care is a for-profit medical company. The company decided that a “consolidation of services” was warranted between Lander and Riverton.  As they implemented that, Riverton began to lose services, including surgical capabilities and obstetrics, among others.   Because of this, alternate methods of delivering necessary, and even emergency, care had to be found.  The consequences have been astounding.  In 2014, there were 155 life flight transfers out of Riverton.  5 years later, there were almost 1,000.  That is unsustainable.  It should be.  It also burdens other health care facilities around the state.  Instead of simply having the necessary services available in our centrally-located population hub of over 20,000 people.

There have been doctors from around the state, and studies done that also demonstrate this stark reality:

“Riverton stands out as having some of the worst access to hospital services in the state”, taken from a Wyoming Department of Health hospital viability study conducted in October of 2019.

The Medical Director of Trauma, Dr. Lisa Burton, penned a letter expressing the dire condition of the access to emergent medical services in Riverton.  “…we became aware that trauma and other basic medical services in Riverton and the surrounding areas have become severely compromised over the past five years. Currently, Riverton has no surgical coverage.  As a result, Riverton area patients with urgent and emergent surgical needs are having to be transferred to other health care facilities.  This can often tax the resources at other facilities, but more importantly, this is a tremendous burden for Riverton patients, families, health care providers, prehospital and air ambulance staff.”  “Riverton, the city with the largest population in Fremont County, needs a hospital with continuous quality basic medical, trauma, emergency, surgical and obstetric care.”

To further compound the problem to access, SageWest Health Care has the highest costs in the state.  A national study of nearly 1,600 facilities was conducted and found that Wyoming, overall, had the second highest disparity between what hospitals billed private insurance versus the rate at which those services are paid to Medicare.  (Using that standard should give at least some idea of the actual price of services, and allows for comparisons of billed costs).  Statewide, Wyoming private plans were charged around 3 times more than Medicare.  But, here’s the important part:  “SageWest Health Care in Fremont County had the highest relative price in the state, more than eight times what the facility was paid by Medicare.”

Now – for the good news! Riverton responded to these multitude of issues.  A committee was formed that has done yeoman’s work, and is working to start a new hospital in Riverton!  This blows open possibilities for our community.  It would be designed and ready to increase treatment capacity for COVID-19, and any other pandemics (since we realized a need with the unexpected coronavirus outbreak).  This would improve the response and abilities for an entire area, including the Wind River Indian Reservation.  Our tribal populations have been severely affected by the lack of hospital services in Riverton.  Further, a new hospital would restore hospital services that have been taken away from our community.  Finally, it would allow for much needed competition and responsiveness to the market.

Now, more than ever, we realize the critical importance of an accessible, reasonably priced, quality hospital located in Riverton, WY.  We, as a community, need to support the efforts to build a new hospital in Riverton.


Riverton has had some of the strongest and lengthiest service from both of our Riverton legislators. Eli Bebout and Dave Miller have a combined 48 years of service to our State. Those are big shoes to fill. It is imperative for a strong voice to continue for the people of Riverton, and Fremont County. In order to do that, the people who replace them have to be able to hit the ground running. An important way to accomplish that is to have people who are familiar with the process, as well as the people in leadership and important roles that know and respect the new Fremont County representatives. Ember has received the endorsements of many such people- because they know who she is, respect her conservative values and the service she has done in our community, and in the county attorney’s office for the last decade. Here are some of the Fremont County and State leaders that support her.



Fremont County & State Leaders, Business People and Law Enforcement Endorsing Ember Oakley

U.S. Senator Al Simpson

Riverton Senator Eli Bebout

County Attorney Patrick LeBrun

Fremont County Sheriff Ryan Lee

Riverton City Councilman Tim Hancock

Representative Lloyd Larsen

Garth & Bobbi Yeates

Senator Tara Nethercott

Former Speaker of the House Colin Simpson

Vice President of the Senate Ogden Driskill

Representative Bob Nicholas

Travis & Jolene Osback

Senator Hank Coe

Representative John Winter

Commissioner Travis Becker

Lieutenant Sarah Trehearne

Ret. Riverton Game Warden Brad Gibb

Lonnie Slack & Nite Kehoe

Mike and Kate Martin

Mike and Heather Becker

Reggie & Elisa Larsen

Phil & Jennifer Pfisterer

Deputy Sara Lowe

An Endorsement from Senator Ogden Driskill

Ogden Driskill is a sixth generation Wyoming rancher.  He and his wife have 3 children, and have the KOA at Devil’s Tower, making him a dual small businessman.

He also currently serves as the Vice President of the Wyoming Senate.  He is respected among his peers when the people from around Wyoming gather in Cheyenne to do the business of the State.

I am honored to call him a friend, and to have him endorse me for the Wyoming House of Representatives.  Ogden knows what it takes to be a successful representative for the people of Wyoming.   Legislating takes consensus and discourse.  Over the years, Ogden and I have discussed many issues and attended Republican functions together.  He knows that I possess a knowledge of the issues facing Wyoming, along with respect and intelligence, and will put those to work for the people of Riverton.  I am proud to share his endorsement with you.

Onerous Federal Regulation on our food production

Agriculture, and our local producers, are suffering from onerous federal regulations on our food production.  This has been true for some time.  Right now, the consumers are seeing the effect of that.  Beef is either unavailable or extremely expensive, at the same time that producers all around us have the product that they cannot sell to their neighbors. This should not happen, and we need to use this time as an opportunity to change the federal regulations, and simultaneously pass Wyoming legislation to end this practice.

The federal government, starting with the Federal Meat Inspection Act in 1906, in effect took control of the market – away from local producers and consumers.  The onerous regulations have made it so that producers have to haul cattle a long way from where it is produced, which is expensive and prohibitive.  Meanwhile, they cannot sell it locally, directly to the closest consumers.

Fair market principles should be allowed to control our economies.  This current crisis has highlighted that, especially in the food and agricultural industries.  It is a dangerous proposition that the federal government is allowed to control our food supply.  Further, it is creating problems for the producers and consumers to interact.  States should be allowed to have and regulate local packers and food plants, so that food can more easily and affordably be sold to the consumer.  It’s that simple.

Criminal Cases

I have had two criminal cases affirmed by the Wyoming Supreme Court in the last two weeks.  Woodis v. State, 2020 WY 62, and Pickering v. State, 2020 WY 66.   I wanted to write about that for a couple of reasons.  First, I do work hard for the people of Riverton.  I am proud of that. Criminal cases take a breadth of knowledge and in-depth work with detectives, crime labs and a variety of agencies regarding evidence collection.  They end with a trial, if that becomes necessary, which is also a stressful and demanding undertaking.

The Woodis case was the sexual assault of a ten-year old child.  Again, these cases can be challenging for a variety of reasons.  But I will always work hard to the protect children in our society.

The second case, Pickering, involved a man shooting at and towards a multitude of officers and deputies from the Riverton Police Department, the Fremont County Sheriff’s Office, and assisting officers from Natrona County.  I think it is such an important time to highlight the difficult work that our law enforcement do Most of the work that they do is not seen by the general public.  The amount of calls that our Fremont County law enforcement respond to is astounding.  As Americans, we have come to depend on and expect that at any point in time, emergency responders are on the ready and on the way with the dialing of a phone.

Many people get aggressive and combative. People are willing to run and fight officers. They get insults hurled at them. Law enforcement are in bodily peril on a regular basis.  And yet – they show up.  They show up every time. Then, when they are done with those situations, we expect a report written that details the entire scenario.  This job takes courage, brains, strength, patience, empathy. They also respond when people are sick or dying, or need help in other ways.  Often law enforcement is trained in, at least basic, medical assistance.  They help people when they are at their worst, or when they are having their worst day.  This is the reason they are called heroes.

The Pickering case that was recently affirmed was an armed standoff with law enforcement. The man barricaded in his house with weapons, and had previously stated that he would fire at officers were they to come to his house.  The deputies and officers responded anyway. They did get shot at.  Thankfully, they also spent hours talking to the man.  Every single person left unharmed that day.  They protected the community from a threat.  They protected the man.  They responded when they knew that they were going towards gunfire.

It is unfair, on top of all of that, that they take abuse from generalizations made about law enforcement.  Human beings are never perfect.  And, I promise you, the situations that they find themselves in are often extremely difficult to maneuver in a safe manner.  But, as a whole, our law enforcement should be respected for the work that they do.  I stand with the Blue.