South Routt Medical Center to add dental, gynecological services
Oak Creek — When Ken Rogers became the district manager for the newly renovated South Routt Medical Center in October, one of his first goals was to find a dentist for Oak Creek residents. However, months would pass before Rogers finally found the person he was seeking.
On Tuesday, Dale Roberts will begin practicing at the medical center in Oak Creek as a part-time dentist, a world away from his most recent gig where he was grinding teeth in rural Alaska.
“I was overseeing an operation where we flew into remote villages in the western part of Alaska. The area was about the size of the state of Colorado. It was huge,” Roberts said. “We’d get into little bush planes and load up 1,500 pounds of gear and go stay for a week in these remote villages and treat the Alaskan native people. It was really a great experience. A lot of hard work but people were very appreciative.”
The addition of Roberts to the SRMC staff is part of the greater renovation process that has been in the works for a couple of years. The medical center was given a complete remodel, including a 1,000-square-foot expansion, completed in April 2014. Rogers joined the fold in the fall, where his goal has been to best utilize the new facilities.
“We are growing it very slowly and growing at a very measured pace,” Rogers said. “This building can only hold so much, and we just finished an expansion a year ago and I don’t think we are ready for another expansion for a while yet. But it’s just trying to maximize what we have here, plus offer as much as we can to the community.”
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Beginning this week, Roberts will see patients on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, with the hope of adding more days as the practice grows. All patients are welcome, from kids to adults. Services include everything from dental emergencies to basic cleanings. Roberts will also accept Medicaid, which Rogers sees as a big plus for Routt County.
Prior to his yearlong stint in Alaska — he returned earlier this spring — Roberts had been a practicing dentist in the Denver area and brings nearly 30 years of experience to South Routt. Born in Kansas but raised in Colorado, Steamboat Springs was a regular vacation spot for Roberts growing up. He had practiced in the mountains prior to his work in Denver, and it was his love for the rural community that initially led to him leaving the big city for the Alaskan tundra.
And it’s that same love that has brought him to work in Routt County.
“I just wanted something different at this point in my career. To really be part of helping somebody is huge. That’s why I really latched on to this place,” Roberts said. “It’s an opportunity for people who may not have access to care to now have their own clinic and come and feel like they are special and important and be treated with a state-of-the-art facility and have good dental care.”
Dental care isn’t the only new service SRMC will add in the coming months.
Beginning July 16, Leslie Ahlmeyer, a long-time gynecologist for Yampa Valley OB/GYN in Steamboat Springs, will spend one Thursday a month in Oak Creek providing patient care, with the hope of making it every other Thursday in the future.
“Hopefully, there will be a draw for patients who kind of perceive Steamboat as a little far away for them,” Ahlmeyer said. “We are going to start with once a month to provide gynecological services to that part of the Valley. I see a lot of patients from that whole area, so hopefully we’ll be able to provide them with a convenience.”
Ahlmeyer said the medical center is looking to purchase an ultrasound machine, with other imaging machines also being considered for the future. For now, the addition of a dentist and OB/GYN is just the next step for the medical center and its goal to improve health care in South Routt.
“It’s not all about seeing 100 people a day. Just take one person at a time and really get to be there for them as their dentist and get to know them as a person, which is huge,” Roberts said. “We’ll just see how it goes. The most important thing right now is just getting the doors open.”
For more information or to schedule an appointment, visit southrouttmedical.com or call 970-736-8118.
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