Locals gather for medical history lesson in Rangely

The Rangely Automotive Museum was the setting for an informal lesson on the history of medicine in Rangely, presented by former resident Larry Meens, whose father was the first doctor to come to Rangely and stayed more than a decade. Jen Hill photo

RANGELY | Last week a handful of longtime Rangely residents and history lovers gathered for an impromptu history lesson and slide show provided by former childhood resident Larry Meens, son of locally famous Dr. Meens.
Arriving in 1947, Dr. Meens was the first doctor to come to Rangely and stay for more than a decade. Relocating from Southern California at the height of the first oil and gas boom was certainly a transition. At that time Main Street, where the first clinic was located, was still unpaved and often muddy. The clinic provided little sanitation and no running water or sewer access. The building was powered by a generator located next to the White River.
In 1948, Dr. Meens and his four nurses moved to a larger building on what is now White Avenue near the current True Value. Rangely Community Hospital housed up to six patients. Here the staff was kept busy with family needs and oilfield injuries. According to Larry, the bulk of treatments Dr. Meens provided at that time came from one of two causes: poor drinking water or alcohol.
Rangely was truly booming and between 1953-1954 the hospital delivered 258 babies. By 1954 the community realized the need to expand and added onto the building as well as an additional doctor and 12 nurses.
During the presentation Dr. Meens was credited with making Rangely one of the first rural western areas to have “decent dosages” of penicillin, a medication the doctor became familiar with after serving in the Army in World War II.
Despite the fact that Dr. Meens and his family left the Rangely area in 1958, numerous attendees at the gathering were able to provide stories and insight on the impact this pioneering doctor had on the community.