The headline was front page, “St. Mary’s Rural Mobile Health Vehicle makes a stop in Rangely.” Along with many members of the community and staff members of Rangely District Hospital, my jaw dropped.
The quotes were glowing—“increase the accessibility to top tier healthcare in our traditionally underserved areas,” “no longer will a ZIP code be considered a health risk factor” and “if patients do not have access to a medical provider, then we should go to them.” The pictures are of a motor home with the smiling faces of strangers who live somewhere other than Rangely.
A few blocks away is Rangely Family Medicine, staffed with full time physicians, a practitioner and employees who live in the community. They are all committed to working hard to provide consistent quality and primary care physician based medical care in a “traditionally underserved area,” to be “access to a medical provider” and to prevent “a ZIP code from being a health risk factor.”
Drs. Sutton and Urish, and practitioner Lindsey have made a commitment to this community and the patients they care for that cannot be matched by strangers in a motor home, no matter how big a hospital they have driven here from. In my view, these three providers are heroes and ‘top tier healthcare.’
After eight years I am still impressed by the dedication, mission and devotion of the staff and administration of this critical access hospital. I have been told time and again, my job is patient care and, “we see everyone, regardless of status.”
A year ago the headline was “Rangely Hospital clinic shows the value of rural health care” with recognition from Colorado Rural Health as a selected “Community Safety Net Clinic.” If they truly want rural outreach, before buying a fancy motor home, parking it down the street and claiming flashy headlines, the big hospital with lots of resources should do more homework, then contact the rural community docs and ask how to help.
J. Karyl Ting, MD
Fort Collins, Colo.