A recovery plan to deal with Tuolumne General Hospital's financial problems was approved by the Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors earlier this year.

But that isn't the end of the possibilities.

The supervisors also directed county staff to look into alternatives to keeping the county-owned hospital open and what those alternatives would cost the county in terms of cash and quality of health care.

Several county staff members teamed up for the task and will present several ideas to county supervisors when they meet tomorrow.

One of the group's options is to hire consultants and conduct an opinion poll, an economic study of health care and a study of other health care models that could serve as alternatives to the county hospital.

The opinion poll, said County Administrator Brent Wallace in a document given to the board, would help determine community and physician support for TGH.

The economic study would help figure out how changing TGH would affect the community, and would include costs of medical care for the indigent a county responsibility. Another study would discuss alternate healthcare models.

The working group of staff members also offers the board the option of not changing anything, and letting the TGH recovery plan, a list of 10 programs created to either cut costs or increase revenue, take its course.

The recovery plan was put forth by the administration after several years of the hospital losing money. Over the past five years, it has borrowed about $6 million and had $11 million in cash infusions from the county's coffers.

The group is also offering the board the options of a "limited scope" study, which would focus on defining the costs of indigent health care, with and without TGH. Wallace's memo said this study could also focus on current and future operations of TGH information that could be used if the board and the TGH Board of Trustees ever create a strategic plan.