On July 4, 2009, a dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony were held for Blue Mountain Hospital, and the healthcare fortunes of thousands, living in central and southern San Juan County, were changed forever.
Donna Singer, then CEO of Utah Navajo Health System, Inc., commented at the time, "It's an amazing thing to see this all brought together because the Utes, Navajos and Anglos are all working together to bring better health care to all residents of San Juan County."
Manuel Morgan, then Chairman of the Blue Mountain Hospital Board of Directors told the audience at the hospital dedication, "The hospital is not Navajo, Ute or Anglo. This is your hospital, I hope to see us save lives, serve the people of the whole community, and bring the community together."
Last week, Blue Mountain Hospital held a celebration to mark its fifth year of healthcare service to the residents of San Juan County. Strangely enough, the same message of unity and providing healthcare to everyone still echoed through the halls of the hospital.
"I think the biggest impact it (the hospital) has had on San Juan County is that we're a county," said Donna Singer, former CEO of Blue Mountain Hospital as well as UNHS. "That the border is Arizona and south of Moab. And that all of the people, Blanding and south have been hugely impacted because we're recognizing now, that the future of San Juan County has to include the fact that the population of San Juan County goes all the way to the Arizona border. I think the most wonderful part of all this is to watch the native people and the Anglo people work together, and the successes that we're accomplishing because of that. The barriers that have been broken down when we all realize that we're all brothers and sisters. There have been many lives saved in this hospital, already, because it was here."
Five years, 39,051 patients and 658 babies later, Blue Mountain Hospital continues to grow and provide an amazing level of healthcare for a small, rural, critical access hospital. The hospital has been recognized by the Joint Commission with its Gold Seal of Approval, and earned the National Critical Access Hospital Award for 2013 – one of only five hospitals across the nation to be so honored.
Hospital CEO Jeremy Lyman says the hospital has come a long way and continues to grow.
"I've been amazed, as have other community members, at the services that are now available for people here in Blanding, and other members of the county who are able to use this facility. The hospital has increased the number of services year after year since it opened, increased the quality of care, obviously hired members of the community, provided jobs, provided economic activity in the community.
"One of the focuses now at Blue Mountain Hospital is engaging the community," Lyman continued. "We need the support of the community. We're here for them. We're here to provide services for them. But if the community doesn't support the hospital, or doesn't come here for services, we wouldn't stay open. Our focus is on engaging the community in every way we can. Whether its simply to come in and enjoy a lunch special in the dining room, or eventually have a baby here or if they need surgery, or an elective surgery or something they can come here and do. Our intent is to increase services, increase the quality of our services and the quality of care we provide."
The staff of Blue Mountain Hospital served more than 700 people, who attended a special 5-Year Anniversary Celebration dinner on Friday, July 11. Staff from the various departments set up displays and met members of the public, answering questions and welcoming them to the hospital.
Lyman said the community response to the dinner was great and people enjoyed the experience and the food. Dietary Manager Debra King and her terrific staff, along with Jeremy Lyman, Kent Turek - Director of Clinical Services, Trent Herring - Environment of Care Director and other staff members worked all day cooking Brazilian Burritos and Quesadillas. Burdette Shumway and Kasidy Lyman spent their day moving furniture, setting up tables and chairs and assisting Bailey Herring, who helped with the decorations for the dinner.
Thanks to all who helped in any way with this great celebration. Thanks also to members of the community who were able to attend. We also want to give a special thank you to all the staff, and volunteers at Blue Mountain Hospital, who work so hard every day to provide quality healthcare to the people of our community. And a special word of gratitude to the people of San Juan County who have supported Blue Mountain Hospital these past five years. Your support has helped our family care for your family's good health, and we hope you will join us when we celebrate our Tenth Anniversary in 2