20 Under 40: Hunter Weatherly uses profession to help save lives
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — It didn’t take long for Hunter Weatherly to find a way to give back to Steamboat Springs — a community he’s grown to love since moving here in October 2015.
The 31-year-old pharmacist arrived in town just as the fledgling Rx Task Force was getting off the ground, and he quickly realized he could help with the group’s efforts to raise community awareness about the growing epidemic of opioid addiction.
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“My role naturally was education,” said Weatherly, who serves as UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center’s clinical outpatient pharmacy manager.
After graduating from pharmacy school in 2009, Weatherly, who is Alabama born and raised, spent five and a half years in Alaska — first working in Anchorage, initially as an outpatient pharmacist, and then as a clinical inpatient pharmacist in the pediatric/neonatal intensive care unit in Anchorage and finally in Nome.
“After working in Alaska, I’d pretty much done all there was to do in the field of pharmacy,” Weatherly said.
Weatherly made the decision to leave Alaska when he found out he was going to be a dad.
“I wanted to be in my child’s life,” Weatherly said. “I had a vision of what that looked like, and moving to Colorado was part of that.”
His son Steele is now 5 1/2 and living with Weatherly, and his new bride, Ashlee, who was a 20 Under 40 selection in 2016 before the two started dating.
“She’s the most incredible mother figure,” Weatherly said of his wife. “I dreamed about that for Steele. It’s great that he has that structure and completeness.”
And it’s Weatherly’s desire to raise his family in Steamboat that fueled his passion for giving back through the Rx Task Force.
“Steamboat is a resort town, but it’s the most real community of any mountain town I know,” Weatherly said. “But, unfortunately, we have to deal with what comes from thrill seeking, and we also have a lot of injuries because of the active lifestyle.
“I knew I could educate people on how these drugs work in the body,” Weatherly said. “I wanted to reduce the stigma and help people understand opioid dependency. I felt like this was a need in the community that I could fill — a way to preserve a place where my children are going to grow up.”
Toward this end, Weatherly has participated in several panel discussions about the topic, given a talk to the community on opioids at the Chief Theater and spoken to medical professionals at Colorado Mountain College. He also worked with local surgical groups to guide post-operative opioid-prescribing practices.
“I think what we’re doing is having an effect,” Weatherly said. “So far in 2018, we’ve had zero opioid-related deaths.”
Paula Salky was one of four people who nominated Weatherly for 20 Under 40 recognition, and she describes him as someone who is passionate about healing and helping others.
“Hunter is a great example of a modern mountain professional man that gives back to his community and considers the health and wellbeing of others all the time,” Salky said. “He is caring, compassionate and a wonderful representative of all that is good in this generation.”
For Weatherly, living and working in Steamboat has been redemptive.
“Everything that could have been lost has been found and come together in a miraculous way. And to be able to come here and be part of the community in a way that’s impactful — not everyone has that chance,” Weatherly said.
To reach Lisa Schlichtman, call 970-871-4221, email lschlichtman@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @lschlichtman.
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Peak Health Alliance, a health care purchasing cooperative created in Summit County in 2018 after it had one of the highest average health care costs in the nation, is looking to expand to Routt County.