The people behind San Juan’s Top 100 Hospital
Dec 23, 2009 | 10402 views | 0 0 comments | 1213 1213 recommendations | email to a friend | print
by Buckley Jensen

Editor’s Note: This is the third in a series on the San Juan Hospital, which will celebrate a half century of service on January 6, 2010.

Last week, we reminisced about the battle that took place in the late 1950’s over whether Blanding or Monticello would get a new hospital. Monticello won the special election by a slim margin and the rest is history.

The new hospital was completed in late l959 and the move from the old hospital occurred the first week of January, 1960 during the worst snowstorm of the winter. The $750,000 edifice opened for business January 6, l960. Its doors have been open continuously since then.

Bricks and steel make hospitals. But they are empty shells until educated, dedicated, caring personnel arrive to make the building come alive. The doctors, nurses, technical personnel and other employees are the spirit of the hospital and many people have worked and cared so that the rest of us had a place to go when sickness and accidents occurred.

In the summer of l973, a medical student named Alan Norton Lindsay from the University of Utah did an eight-week internship at the San Juan Hospital in Monticello under the tutelage of Dr. Carroll D. Goon. Upon completion of his sojourn in Monticello he wrote an essay on the experience which was published in a medical journal. His writing gives an outsider’s view of the life of a rural doctor and his hospital. Excerpts:

“I went to Monticello Utah, 50 miles south of Moab. It seemed to me to be in the middle of nowhere. It has a drug store, three drive-ins, and a drive-in movie. Its major excitement aside from outstanding outdoor activities of all kinds is watching the award-winning high school marching band and discussing past football glories. It has many interesting and wonderful people, two very good doctors and a hospital.

“The longer I stayed, the more convinced I became that the supposed inadequacies of small rural hospitals were more than compensated for by advantages that a large city hospital could never offer.

“In a small hospital like Monticello’s there is a much more relaxed atmosphere than in large ones. There is a slower pace and there is less need for regimentation and departmentalization.

“The patient is made to feel more like a guest than a burden to the staff. He is not besieged with strange doctors and medical students. There is a new nurse every shift, but she is likely to be a neighbor, and somehow nursing care takes on an added dimension when it is a friend who is being treated.

“I was officially working under Dr. Carroll Goon, but I also spent a lot of time with Dr. Jerrold Smith, the other physician in town. Dr. Goon makes the San Juan Hospital unique among small hospitals because he is a board certified surgeon and is thus able to tackle surgical problems that most general practitioners would hesitate to approach.

“On the average day, Monticello’s two doctors see 50-70 patients in their private practices. On Monday the number would jump to between 70 and 80. After a holiday, visits could be astronomical. For instance, on July 5, 1973, Dr. Goon saw 98 office patients, many of whom had done too much celebrating the day before.

“All in all, my summer in Monticello taught me many things. I am convinced that all medical students should spend some time witnessing rural medicine. From my stay, I learned that good small town medicine is indeed possible and that the medical community should take pride in the work of the rural practitioner.

“I learned that it takes a certain type of man to practice successfully in rural America: One who enjoys small town life and the people with whom he will associate; one who enjoys facing a day not knowing what to expect -- injuries from an auto accident, an acute appendicitis, hay fever, a C-section, school physicals, fulminating meningitis; one who enjoys overcoming the difficulties of sometimes inadequate facilities; one who feels that he is capable of handling most of what he sees; and one who recognizes his own limitations and is willing to quickly send a patient on when he feels that he cannot adequately care for him.”

– Alan Norton Lindsay

Despite its isolation, San Juan County has truly been blessed with great doctors and nurses and the supporting personnel over the last half century.

The thrust of this article is to name and honor the hundreds of people who have served. The best brains at the hospital in 2009 have tried to remember, and what records there are have been searched, but no doubt someone will be missed. For that, we apologize in advance.

Doctors who have served since l960, in chronological order as best we could determine are as follows: Dr. Lacy, Carroll D. Goon, Jerrold C. Smith, Terry Henrie, DeLaMar L. Gibbons, James D. Redd, Dr. Fallon, Peter De Wolfe, Roland Benedict, James Herbert, Kim McDonald, Kelly Nickolson, Steven Warren, Paul Mayberry, Val Jones, Joel Porter, Nathaniel Penn, Robert Mena, Manfred Nelson, Steve McArthur, Sandy Nielson, Jay Reddy, Rajani Katkuri, Martin McNeil, Jerry Howe, Kevin Matteson and Gene Key.

Doctors presently serving at the San Juan Hospital are: Mahana Fisher, Paul Reay, Steven Bloink, Kris Hayes and Curtis Black.

Nurses: Will be featured in a future article.

Administrators since 1960 are: Lloyd Hamilton, Ronald Nielson, Arlow Freestone, Wayne Ross, William Reger, Rayburn Jack, Norma Nielson Hobbs, Rick Bailey (interim administrator) John Fellmeth, Larry Putnam, Dana Barnett, Craig Ambrosiani, Cleal Bradford, John Hart, Lyman Duncan, Dennis Moser, Craig Preston and Phil Lowe.

Radiologists: Dorr H. Burns, Robert Swenson, Clyde Cukendall, William Ellingson, Vaughan Johnson, Jim Furze, Mark Walter, and Billy Bardin. For the last several years x-rays are transmitted electronically to the University of Utah where they are viewed and returned, sometimes within minutes.

Anesthetists/ CRNA’s: Dr. Joe Hamilton, Connie Whipple, Lillian Birch, Mitch Bailey, Kay Osteen, Brad Young and Larry Turrin.

Office Personnel: Margaret Bronson, Leda Young, Rita Walker, Cheryle Harbison, Frances Scheer, Eloise Herron, Jerilyn Ward, Frances Erickson, Linda Richardson, Roma Young, Jill Gorrie, Alice Marsh, Susan Taylor, Deana Dalton, Joyce Coleman, Julie Robinson, Sue Morrell, Francis La Giglia, Tracy Walker, Erin Barry, Haven Davis, Kristen Christensen and Holly Walker.

Personnel who served 20-30 years include Dr, C. D. Goon, Dr. J. C. Smith, Dr. DeLaMar Gibbons, Dr. James D. Redd, Precilla Romero, Hazel French, Helen Wight, Mable Wright, Margaret Bronson, Mary Vigil, Leda Young, Veda Pehrson, Belinda Nielson, Telesfora Chacon, Vicenta Torres, Angeline Westcott, Maude Buck, Erma Leavitt, Loya Trujillo, Jean Gardner, Polly Langston and Winifred Griffin.

Next week, Arlow Freestone, who was the administrator at the San Juan Hospital longer than anyone else, (17 years), will share his memories.

Part I Part II Part IV Part V
Comments-icon Post a Comment
No Comments Yet
The San Juan Record welcomes comments on our stories. Please be civil, respectful, focused and humane. Postings are not edited and are the responsibility of the author. You agree not to post comments that are abusive, threatening or obscene. Postings may be removed at the discretion of