Often called “The Star of All Valleys” by early pioneers, Star Valley is surrounded by the Salt River Mountain Range in Western Wyoming. Settled in 1878, the Valley’s health care roots started with hardy pioneer physicians who practiced from their homes or small offices. It’s the friendly residents and beautiful outdoors that still draws health care providers to the area.
Our theme this year was ‘Elevating our Game’. The idea behind this was to focus on enhancing the use of our new electronic medical records system and ensuring we were providing the best care with all of our new services. Greg Reynolds, PA-C, joined Salt River Orthopaedics and Nurse Practitioners, Sean Knighton and Dan Wood started practicing in the Alpine and Thayne Clinics. Dr. Brian McClure, anesthesiologist, agreed to join the medical staff in July of 2016, after he finishes his pain management fellowship. For the fifth year running, SVMC was named a Top 100 Critical Access Hospital in America.
SVMC broke ground for a new emergency department and surgery department expansion. The surgery department expansion would take three phases: new construction, remodeling the old emergency department and finally the most difficult phase of remodeling the old surgery department in the middle of the medical center. SVMC implemented a new electronic medical records system that will be used in the hospital as well as all the clinics, one system for the entire organization. For the second year in a row SVMC was named a Top 20 CAH, we remained in the Top 100 for the fourth year.
SVMC acquired Physical Therapy of Star Valley and it became ‘Therapy Services, a Service of SVMC’. Dr. Sam Linford, orthopaedic surgeon, joined Salt River Orthopaedics. Dr. Jonah Green, general surgeon, relocated his family to Star Valley as Dr. Scott Bender left for a larger facility. SVMC was not only recognized as a Top 100 CAH for the third year in a row, but also was named a Top 20 CAH.
CEO, Steve Perry, left SVMC to continue his career in healthcare on a state wide level. Charlie Button, CEO, was hired by the NLCHD Board of Trustee’s to take the helm. His vision for healthcare in Star Valley emphasized creating partnerships in the community, providing additional healthcare services and creating a culture of ownership amongst the staff. SVMC was recognized as a Top 100 CAH for the second year in a row.
Star Valley Medical Center was recognized as one of the Top 100 Critical Access Hospitals in America by the National Rural Health Association.
To help with the growth of Dr. Tallerico’s orthopaedic practice, Kyle Hirschi, Physician Assistant, joined Salt River Orthopaedics. SVMC completed a construction project that included adding four inpatient rooms, expansion of the radiology and laboratory departments, a new conference center, upgraded dietary services along with a free standing maintenance building.
Our family practice providers grew with three new additions; Drs. Christian Morgan, Niki Milleson, and Ross Pieper. Hadden Goodman, Physician Assistant, joined the Alpine and Thayne Clinics to increase coverage for the lower valley. Dr. Wade Dunlap became our second general surgeon to provide coverage 365 days a year. There were over eleven visiting specialists that provided services throughout the month at SVMC.
This was a bitter sweet year as Dr. Scott Bennett met his untimely death in an avalanche while snowmobiling near the Cottonwood Lake area. On the positive side, Dr. Marlowe Goble, noted orthopaedic surgeon, joined the medical staff and assisted Dr. Tallerico in creating an Orthopaedic Center of Excellence. Dr. Lance Petersen, family practice, was hired as a full-time emergency department physician. SVMC, with the assistance of Lincoln County and the Town of Afton, took over management of Star Valley EMS. SVMC implemented its first electronic medical records system.
Dr. David Shrader, pulmonologist, joined the medical staff and with his expertise helped to establish a sleep lab with Hudson England as our polysomnographer.
Drs. Kirk and Bennett, and Ed Henry, NP broke away from SVMC to establish Independent Family Practice in Thayne. This provided additional health care services to residents of the lower valley.
Dr. Brian Tallerico, orthopaedic surgeon, joined SVMC and opened Salt River Orthopaedics and another new service, Respiratory Therapy, was established to enhance patient care.
The renovation of the old Star Valley Hospital into the Afton Clinic to house all of our providers under one roof was complete. Dr. Cobbs closed his practice and moved out of the area.
Dr. Scott Bennett, family practice, joined the medical staff. This brought the family practice providers to six covering the Afton and Alpine Clinics.
Dr. Kenneth Cobbs, orthopaedic surgeon, and Dr. Scott Bender, general surgeon, joined the SVMC medical staff and were the first providers of their specialties in the valley.
With a 75% approval rate, the voters of North Lincoln County Hospital District approved a $2.5 million Bond Issue towards construction of a new 39,000 sq. ft. hospital and renovation of the current facility into physician clinics. The Wyoming State Land and Investment Board approved a SVMC grant request to help fund this new construction and renovation project; officially dedicated on Friday, June 6, 2003.
Intermountain Health Care (IHC), who had managed the operations since 1973, announced plans to discontinue the management contract with Star Valley Hospital. Instead of floundering and losing vital services for valley residents, the North Lincoln County Hospital District Board of Trustees made the decision to move forward and improve medical services. Under the direction of a new CEO, Steve Perry, the Star Valley Hospital started from scratch including a new name, Star Valley Medical Center. This new entity encompassed both the old Star Valley Hospital and Star Valley Care Center.
Due to the generous contributions from the people of Star Valley, State grants, and County aid, the Star Valley Care Center was built. This new 24 bed Care Center opened, adjacent to the hospital in October.
Drs. Martha Hageman, the valley’s first female doctor, and Donald Kirk joined the medical staff. The Alpine Family Clinic became a reality with the help of Drs. Hageman and Kirk including their assistance with the finish work and painting.
1986 – 1989
Dr. Allen Carter joined the medical staff in July 1986; followed by Drs. K. Paul Head and Noel Stibor in July of 1989. This was the first step in establishing Star Valley Family Physicians.
Medical services were centralized to the new site in November; and Intermountain Health Care (IHC) continued in the administration of the hospital.
As medical procedures advanced, the hospital had served its purpose; and in 1973, Lincoln County formed a special hospital tax district. The North Lincoln County Hospital District provided funding for health care services, and once again the citizens of Star Valley unified to build a 15 bed facility.
After Dr. Worhten’s death and Dr. Trealor’s retirement, Dr. Perkes was the only physician in the valley.
Additional construction for the north and east wings of the hospital were completed. At this point in time, Dr. Orson Perkes arrived in Star Valley and practiced alongside of Drs. Trealor and Worthen. Dr. Perkes had the distinction of being the longest practicing physician in Star Valley…practicing 56 years, until his death in 2012.
Dr. Samuel Worthen arrived in Star Valley, shortly after the death of Dr. Beal. He began his own practice across the street from Dr. Trealor. In the early 1940’s Dr. Worthen’s father started construction on a small hospital in Afton. Upon returning from the war in 1945, all of Star Valley’s medical services were centralize into this new hospital.
Drs. David Beal and Orson Trealor established practices in the new hospital located in downtown Afton on the west side of Washington. Dr. Beal practiced until 1935 and Dr. Trealor until 1970.
Dr. George West, who practiced in the valley for 43 years, was one of the first doctors in Star Valley. He regularly operated on patients in the kitchen of his home. The first hospital was brought about by the LDS Church and was located on the corner of Washington and Second Avenue.