Courtin’ in the cafeteria | SteamboatToday.com
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Courtin’ in the cafeteria

Family-like atmosphere at YVMC includes 20 married couples

Registered Nurse Terri Chapman, right, at the UCHealth Jan Bishop Cancer Center met her spouse, Nuclear Medicine Technologist Kevin Chapman, on her first day at work during an orientation tour.
UCHealth/Courtesy photo

Valentine’s Day this year falls on another busy Monday, where many couples have to squeeze in time to celebrate, but love may be in the air at UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center where some 20 married couples work on staff.

Whether those couples are both physicians, or work across different departments, they say the positive, family-like atmosphere at the smaller hospital inspires spouses to work there together. Some of the couples include one spouse hired first at YVMC, and then an appropriate position came open for their partner to apply. Some of the couples met at work.

Registered Nurse Terri Chapman at the UCHealth Jan Bishop Cancer Center met her spouse, Nuclear Medicine Technologist Kevin Chapman, on her first day at work in fall 2006 during an orientation tour. The encounter did not produce instant sparks, but Terri did find Kevin “jovial.” Later they bonded over their shared love of winter sports and residing in the same condo complex.



The Chapmans’ courting included lunch dates at the hospital cafeteria, and now the loving couple have been married 12 years this month. The couple has 9- and 10-year-old daughters, and most holiday celebrations include traditional family pizza and movie nights.

Unlike some other couples working at YVMC, the Chapmans may share patients as Kevin performs CAT scans on cancer patients. Terri said patients can find that couple connection comforting.



“It’s nice to have that connection. The patients get a kick out of it,” said Terri, an oncology nurse for 21 years of her career. “It’s just neat when I can bring a patient down and introduce them to Kevin.”

Will and Sheila LaCroix, married for almost 20 years, commute together to work at YVMC from their home in Yampa. Will works as the facilities manager, and Sheila is the coding quality coordinator. Although their paths don’t cross often at work, Will said working in the same organization provides a shorthand connection.

“When she talks about her job, I know enough and vice versa. We don’t have to explain ourselves too much. We are both familiar. I think it’s good,” Will said.

“It helps us understand each other better,” Sheila said.

Will and Sheila LaCroix, married for almost 20 years, both work at UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center. Will is the facilities manager, and Sheila is the coding quality coordinator.
UCHealth/Courtesy photo

The LaCroix couple connected again, after attending the same high school several grades apart, at a wedding where Sheila’s friend married his Will’s friend. They lived on the Front Range before moving to Routt County in 2005, and now they spend a lot of time hunting and fishing in the Flat Tops and watching their son play hockey. They, too, try to make time for lunch dates in the cafeteria.

Although the couples interviewed did not realize YVMC employs about 20 married couples, they were not surprised. YVMC staff includes 580 people total with full- and part-time employees.

“It kind of seems somewhat natural. It seems like a family atmosphere here,” Will said. “We do such a special job for the community, so it seems to bring us all together. It’s a great place to work.”

Dr. Jim Cotter, an emergency medicine physician, and wife, Dr. Nicole Cotter, a rheumatologist at UCHealth Rheumatology Clinic, are a newer, married couple addition to the hospital staff since 2020. The couple met in medical school at Louisiana State University. They first met as freshmen when Nicole’s old hand-me-down car broke down one day, and Jim gave her a ride to their group for new med students. They studied together often and later completed their residency training at neighboring hospitals in Houston. The couple, both age 44, have been married for 17 years and have two sons.

Jim said the secret to a happy married life while in the medical field is “you have to be honest.” Nicole added that couples “should be friends first and foremost.” Wanting the same things out of life and enjoying outdoor activities together also rate high for the couple.

Now married for 17 years, Dr. Jim Cotter, an emergency medicine physician, and wife, Dr. Nicole Cotter, a rheumatologist at UCHealth Rheumatology Clinic, joined the UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center staff in 2020.
Courtesy photo

As a two-physician couple and parents, the Cotters have time to eat lunch together in the cafeteria only during the slower shoulder seasons. Nicole said married doctors understand the commitment the other one makes to their profession.

With long-standing privacy laws in the medical field, the couples say they can’t and don’t share patient specifics at home, but having a spouse in the medical field can increase the level of understanding in their relationships.

“We are both very good at not bringing our work home, but we can share in sadness together. He gets it when I’m sad and can support me,” Terri Chapman said, adding the couple can share in the happiness of positive patient stories too. “You certainly already have a lot in common when you work in health care.”

Kevin and Terri Chapman, who originally met at work at UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center, show their wedding photo.
UCHealth/Courtesy photo

 


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