More than 600 community members and dignitaries joined the UNHS staff, administration and Board of Directors for an open house and ribbon cutting for the new Blanding Family Practice Clinic on Friday, July 26.
Under a giant tent erected in the parking lot of the new clinic, those in attendance heard UNHS Board Chairwoman Melinda Farley, and Board member Gloria Begaye; offer their comments on the new clinic facility. UNHS CEO Michael Jensen and Navajo Tribal Delegate Charlene Tso also spoke, as did Dr. Val Jones. Jones is UNHS Medical Director and the first provider to work with UNHS when it opened its doors nearly twenty years ago. The Utah National Guard posted the colors of the United States and the State of Utah, and Miss Utah Navajo, Kayla Frank, sang the National Anthem. The invocation was offered by Clayton Long and Wilfred Jones gave the closing prayer, before a luncheon was served and the community was given the opportunity to tour the new clinic building.
“We thank you for being here for our second highlight of our organization,” Farley told the audience, referring to the Montezuma Creek Clinic that opened last year as the first highlight. “We’re really blessed and really thankful for the way we’ve progressed for the past twenty years. We’re really honored and happy that we are here.”
She thanked all those who helped with the construction of the building, including Korte Company, Northern Electric, Redd Mechanical and all the local contractors and workers who were involved. She thanked all the local dignitaries and representatives of the various local, state and regional organizations in attendance. She also thanked Donna Singer, the first CEO of UNHS who helped make the organization work when it first started in 2000. Singer was CEO up until a few years ago, when current CEO Michael Jensen assumed the position.
“We’re just growing and we’re thankful for our vision and what we wanted in the beginning and what we were looking at for our communities and our people,” Farley added. “It’s coming to the surface and its really amazing to see it grow. I’m really thankful for everybody being a part of it. It’s not just us. It’s everyone of you who helped to build it this way.”
UNHS Board Vice-Chair, Gloria Begaye, began her remarks by saying of the new clinic, “It’s been a long vision that we have set our goals to as Board members.”
She went on to explain that Blanding Family Practice began with buying the practice of Michele Lyman, PAC, nearly twenty years ago. Since then Blanding Family Practice has been growing and building and Lyman has been an integral part of the organization’s success.
“This new building is 42,000 square feet with 32 exam rooms, 10 dental rooms and a drive-through pharmacy. We have an eye doctor and a chiropractor. We have a conference room for staff, and for training. We have X-Ray and Lab and we can still add on for our specialists from University of Utah that we have partnered with,” she explained.
As a member of the Blue Mountain Hospital Board of Directors, Gloria also acknowledged Blue Mountain Hospital and introduced BMH CEO Jeremy Lyman, and Board members Lynn Steven (Board Chair), Donna Singer, Bradley Height, Elaine Cantsee, Christina Nightstar and Malcolm Lehi. She became emotional talking about the traditional Navajo blessing that was offered on the new clinic earlier that morning by Hayden Lansing. She said the blessing helped her become renewed as a Board member to look forward to things not done.
UNHS CEO Michael Jensen talked about his pioneer roots in Utah and the struggles those pioneers endured.
“They knew what they wanted to do, they knew what their goal was but there were massive struggles along the way,” Jensen related. “I kind of think, in some ways, that’s where UNHS is getting. We’re certainly not where we want to be but we’ve had some pretty big struggles along the way. I remember when I first came on board 14-15 years ago, during the first Joint Commission survey. Our Board was literally learning as they went. They were visionaries and they knew what they wanted to do. They kind of just learned each and every day what they wanted to get done.
“We’re starting now to see the results of some of the great things those early pioneers did. When I say pioneers I don’t mean just UNHS I mean Blue Mountain Hospital, San Juan Health Services, San Juan Counseling and all the pioneers in health care in San Juan County that helped pave the way for us to be here today” he continued. “We’re really proud of this new clinic. Our technology rivals some of the technology you’d see up north in Salt Lake. It was built to have a real welcoming feel so when you walk in you feel like, ‘I’m home. This is a quiet, peaceful, healing place.’ I think we succeeded in that with our builders and our architects and our staff. I’d like to give acknowledgement to (UNHS COO) Byron (Clarke). He was the lead for UNHS in helping get this built and he did a wonderful job.”
Jensen pointed out that building these clinics is a key part of fulfilling the UNHS Mission Statement (that emphasizes amazing customer service).
“Our goal is to have our patients get seen when its convenient for them, in a nice welcoming environment, offering as many programs and services as we can for them,” Jensen continued. “So that its kind of a one-stop-shop. This is certainly not the end of the journey. This is just one path of the journey. There are many, many more exciting things to come at UNHS and health care within San Juan County.”
Navajo Nation Council Delegate the Honorable Charlene Tso told the gathering, “This is an accomplishment. This is the reason I wanted to be here today to view this beautiful facility. It’s been more than a decade that you dedicated your time and efforts to make this possible. I can see why you are emotional. I respect each and every one of you Board members and everybody that put their input into this achievement. This is a beautiful facility. Walking in there I thought, ‘wait, where am I at? This isn’t the Homewood Suites. It kind of looks that way.
“In my perspective it raises the bar for me. It raises the bar for everyone. It raises the bar for our children, our students and that leads to success,” Tso added. “I thank you for being that example, for those years of dedication and hard work, and the dialog between so many organizations and between so many people. Because of those efforts we get to walk into a facility so beautiful. We get to get the treatment we need. I wish I had this even at my chapters. We do have a few nice facilities, but I can say that this one and the one in Montezuma tops it all.”
Dr. Jones told the audience he has been practicing medicine in San Juan County for thirty years and nearly twenty years with Utah Navajo Health System, Inc.
“This has been a great experience for me and I’m amazed at every development,” he said. He also nixed the idea that he’s ready for retirement, adding that new buildings like the new clinic, with their modern medical facilities are, “…like a candy store to a kid, to me. It’s a tribute to the UNHS management team. Their leadership has led to our success as a company.
“The UNHS Board of Directors had a vision to bring clinics to San Juan County,” Jones added. “But these are more than buildings. They are places of healing.”
Jones also stressed that at UNHS the patients are the top priority and, “the success of UNHS represents the quality of the staff we have.”
The new Blanding Family Practice Clinic opened its doors to see patients on Friday, August 2, beginning a new era for UNHS and for health care in San Juan County.
Cutting the ribbon...
UNHS Board members Melinda Farley and Gloria Begaye cut the ribbon to officially open the new Blanding Family Practice Clinic, on July 26. Shown above (L-R) Front Row: Board member Cassandra Beletso, Board Secretary Lorissa Jackson, Board Treasurer Harriett Lansing, Board Chair Melinda Farley and Vice-Chair Gloria Begaye. Back Row: UNHS COO Byron Clarke, Rhonda Thuni, Board member Jamie Harvey, Dr. Val Jones, Board member Wilfred Jones, Board member Robert Whitehorse, UNHS CEO Michael Jensen and UNHS HR Manager Herb Clah, Jr. Staff photo
Dr. Val Jones is recognized by UNHS Board Chair Melinda Farley and CEO Michael Jensen. Jones was the first medical provider with UNHS and he is still with the organization for twenty years later. He is also the UNHS Medical Director. Staff photos