After years of frustration, challenges, county infighting and sheer persistence, a hospital in Blanding finally became a reality on July 4 as the magnificent new 45,000 square foot Blue Mountain Hospital was dedicated.
It has been an uphill battle since the original Blanding Health Care Committee was organized 25 years ago in l984. The initial committee included Donna Singer, Rayburn Jack, Kathleen Lyman, Cleal Bradford, Kent Adams, Dr. James D. Redd and Jim Shumway.
Different factions within San Juan County, afraid that a hospital in Blanding would spell the demise of the county hospital in Monticello, fought the building of another hospital just 22 miles away.
The entire issue was rendered moot on the Fourth of July as Utes, Navajos, Anglos, proud financial backers, dignitaries and hundreds of citizens joined to dedicate and take tours of the beautiful new facility.
While hundreds of people in the South San Juan area have had an influence on Saturday’s outcome, it can be argued that none has contributed more than Donna Singer.
Singer is the only individual of the original planning group to still sit on the Blue Mountain Hospital Board of Directors. Donna’s leadership and persistence, perhaps more than any other single individual, is the reason Blue Mountain Hospital is a reality today.
The current Board of Directors consists of Donna Singer, Manuel Morgan, Ernest House, Leona Eyetoo, Wilfred Jones, and Gloria Begaye.
Others who played pivotal roles in the project were Ahmad Razaghi, (financing), Art Pasker (architecture) San Juan County Commissioners Lynn Stevens, Mark Maryboy, Manuel Morgan, Kenneth Maryboy and Bruce Adams, Blanding City Manager Chris Webb, Mayor Toni Turk, Hospital CEO Lorin C. MacKay, CPA Phil Lyman (CPA) and Taylor Lyman of Connected Technologies.
The physical plant was built by Hogan Construction, Northern Electric, Redd Mechanical and Tri-Hurst Construction. Landscaping was done by the Alon Pugh Family and the San Juan High School Cheerleaders and Drill Team.
Pivotal Utah Navajo Health Systems (UNHS)staff members who went beyond the call of duty include Donna Jensen, Dennis Hammond, Verlyn Hawks, George Jones, Jimmy Johnson, Allen Anderson, Willie Tortillita, Josh Kotter, Clifford Sagg, Errol Thomas, Ervin Hanley and their leader and CEO Donna Singer.
Dale Slade, who, with Recapture Metals, donated the land for the hospital campus, was in attendance at the dedication and was recognized for his generous gift.
The UNHS Board of Directors are Wilfred Jones, Jamie Harvey, Edward Tapaha, Robert Whitehorse, Gloria Begaye, Melinda Naseyowma, Harriett Lansing, Kenneth Miles and Lorissa Jackson. The hospital will be part of the UNHS network of clinics and health facilities throughout San Juan County.
Each of the major players in the hospital took part in the dedication, including members of the Navajo Nation, the Ute Tribe and the San Juan County Anglo community. Manual Morgan was master of ceremonies.
Many Native Americans in traditional dress entertained and spoke at the services. The Navajo and Ute tribal members completed traditional dedication of the facility.
Donna Singer gave a summary of the long history of the hospital and of health services in San Juan County. Ahmad Razaghi, Blue Mountain Hospital Corporation President, presided at the ribbon cutting ceremony.
Following the ribbon cutting, there were tours of the hospital and light refreshments.
There is probably no single project in the history of this county that took more work and “stickitatuity” than this new state-of-the-art health facility. It will bless the lives of thousands over the years.
Blue Mountain Hospital is a ultra-modern facility with the very latest and best equipment. It is tastefully and beautifully decorated, featuring the art of the Native Americans who have had a major role in its creation.
But most of all it is a testment to what a tight-knit group of people in small-town America can bring to pass when they refuse to give up.
Costs were not discussed, but one of our County Commissioners said he thought the building cost was about $14 million, with about another $8 million in equipment, for a total cost of $22 million.