UCHealth Chief Executive Officer Liz Concordia recently talked to a group of retired physicians from Poudre Valley Hospital. The physicians in the room had decades of medical experience; and many of the doctors were among the first in Fort Collins in their respective professions.
“We wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for your leadership and knowledge in providing exceptional service to grow this system,” Concordia said to the group of more than 30 retired doctors.
Among them was Dr. Stanley Henson, who just turned 99 years old at the end of November. In 1956, Henson started the first general surgeons’ practice in Fort Collins. Dr. James Wise, also in the crowd, joined in 1961. Then in 1964, Dr. Merlin Otteman joined the practice.
Otteman, who become the first to perform bariatric surgery at Poudre Valley Hospital, also was in attendance.
“No one else was doing it here, and the hospital was very supportive, providing the special equipment and tools necessary,” he said. “It was an unusual thing to do — surgical treatment for morbid obesity.”
It was only about 15 years ago that bariatric surgery became an acceptable treatment, Otteman said, adding that it was a very rewarding profession.
“As far as a surgeon goes, they (bariatric patients) are the most gratifying patients to have,” he said, opening a retirement scrapbook filled with thank-you letters from patients over the years.
Other event attendees had different stories to tell. Event speakers included Dr. Don Beard, one of the first pediatricians in Fort Collins, and Dr. Lee Jeffrey, an OB/Gyn. Both discussed the area’s history regarding their specialties.
“We’ve come a long way from what you’ve started and from what you grew,” Concordia said to the room, and she concluded by commending the strength of the physicians who practiced in northern Colorado with Poudre Valley Health System, now UCHealth.
The annual Retired Physicians event was hosted by the PVH & MCR Foundation in partnership with Columbine Health Systems.
Story by Kati Blocker, UCHealth