Letter: Rangely needs up-to-date health care

I would like to take a few minutes to relate the happenings of Dave’s accident on the morning of Feb. 19. The first thing I want to make clear is that this is not a political statement, but just a statement of fact.
Let’s begin at 5:55 a.m. with Dave arriving at work. He opened the gates to the shop and yard. With the second gate open, Dave started to return to his truck, slipped on the ice, which had a new coat of snow on it. He landed very hard on the ground and felt his right leg break. At this point, knowing he was unable to move, he managed to remove his cell phone from layers of Carhartt cold-weather clothing and called Bill Willis in the office approximately 30 feet away. Dave was taken to the hospital.
At the Rangely District Hospital, the EMS staff and doctors knew from the start that Dave would be transferred to St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction and started to prep for transfer. There are a lot of things that had to be done, such as an IV being established, and immobilizing the broken leg before transfer, to mention just a couple. If there could be found any comedy in this situation, it was when the EMS personnel tried to cut off the Carhartts and steel-toed shoes. Maybe they could include a chainsaw in the new hospital budget. Dave was amazed how so many people doing different tasks could fit into this very small emergency room and still work. When it came time to bring in the portable X-ray machine, there was just barely room to get it through the door and beside the gurney, let alone allow the necessary personnel in to work. When it came time to load Dave into the ambulance, Shanna Kinney gave Dave and the ambulance crew last-minute instructions on transfer by land.
Transfer was completed to St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction. Their staff was waiting and ready for Dave. Dave was in surgery in approximately 40 minutes, thanks to the EMS staff and doctors at Rangely knowing their jobs, e-mailing the X-rays and other particulars down to Grand Junction.
Accidents show no mercy. People will think it won’t happen to them. Dave thought it would not happen to him, but it did. Without the EMS staff, who does a person turn to for help? I have heard it said that this Rangely Hospital is nothing more that a first-aid station. Dave has been involved with the EMS service on the other end of the stick, being a full-time fireman in Wisconsin, and he has high regard for the talents of the personnel at the Rangely Hospital.
Dave and I were at the presentation for the new hospital at Radino Center before Dave’s accident, and we feel the Rangely District Hospital has spent a great deal of time and research putting together this presentation and what the cost would be to the taxpayer. We feel we have our priorities in all the wrong areas in Rangely. This is a very fine community for people to retire in, as many people have. We need a good, up-to-date hospital and health-care system.
Coming from Wisconsin, many small rural hospitals are merged under one big hospital such as they are doing here with St. Mary’s to keep up their standard of care. People need to understand you cannot put a price on a person’s health in any way, shape or form. Rangely is too far removed to not have an adequate hospital. Now is the time to advance into the 21st century.
We would like to thank the personnel of W.C. Striegel, including Bill Willis, Troy, Leonard Lane and Bud Striegel and all the office personnel in helping in this situation. Also, we would like to thank Shirley Kell for taking Pat to the hospital in Grand Junction, Carl and Peggy Rector for bringing Dave home over the snow and ice covered Douglas Pass and many friends for stopping by and saying “Hi,” as well as all the phone calls and cards.
Dave and Pat Atherton
Rangely