A physician looking for a more purpose-driven life after retirement joins the board of his local health service district, believing that his medical acumen will be appreciated and benefit the district which is bereft of experience and direction. To his horror, the board, fearing loss in control, ostracizes him, then vilifies him; finally culminating in charging him falsely with assaulting the board chairman which necessitates his having to go to court to defend himself. Another physician with a vision for the future of the health district joins him and with like-minded citizens they wage a battle to oust the ne’er-do-wells. Does this small, mountain town respond to the clarion call for better health care and a better tomorrow?
For 15 years I’ve worked in rural Colorado assisting nine rural hospitals and about 400 docs with managed care, contracting, payer relations, resolution of payment problems, and marketing to employers in our towns. I had the opportunity this week to meet Brad Cochennet at the Pagosa Mountain Hospital. Brad mentioned your book as a good account of some relevant history and I purchased the book on my way out of town. I was prepared for some of it; small town politics bears similarities from place to place. But I was not prepared for such a page turner. After a week on the road, I picked it up the next morning and couldn’t put it down until I was through. It’s a moving story.
It is unfortunate that you couldn’t stay there and enjoy the fruits of your labors; it was a heroic effort. That’s an overused descriptor these days, much in vogue. But as a combat vet I feel the authority to convey my impression of your accomplishment in that way. I hope you feel gratified Dick. Simply to endure what is in your account and what must also be between the lines for no other reason than it needed to be done is true moral heroism. Your courage is all the more moving in this day of too many displays of shallowness.
Thank you for what you did for that town. The people deserve so much better than what they had. I love small towns. I love the dynamics and I find the struggle to maintain a viable health system for their residents a high calling. I am very lucky to do work for so many that I am so passionate about. We may have the opportunity to work with the hospital in Pagosa, but even if we don’t have that honor, it does my heart good to see the medical resources thay have to serve them.
I was simply moved to reach out and thank you. Thank you for the residents of Pagosa, thank you for all of us that there are people like yourself walking around.
John Leavitt, President, The Colorado Network
“. . . Dick Blide’s involvement in what can only be described as a tragicomedy of the highest order resulted in a great gift to the community in which he once lived, labored, suffered, and eventually, triumphed. This story . . . stands as an example of what occurs anywhere, at any level, when hubris and dishonesty come to the fore in politics and management. And of what can happen when determined, well-intentioned and honest people refuse to accept that fact and work with like-minded comrades to serve the common good..” Karl Isberg, Editor, Pagosa Springs Sun, Pagosa Springs, Colorado
” . . . (Blide) took a complex and almost insoluble problem, withstood vitriolic verbal assaults, never let up despite serious health problems, continued to speak the truth while enduring constant vilification and all in an almost Churchillian Stance to help his fellow man. The outcome speaks for itself: a brand new hospital and a first-rate health care system.” James L. Knoll, M.D., Retired Chairman, Department of Psychiatry, Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas
“I found the entire story to be riveting. I was absolutely absorbed by this unique look at small town politics as seen from an insider, and a very perceptive, articulate insider. It is so clear, and so well organized. I was led step by step through the story with my interest growing as each new twist and turn unfolded.” Rich Weaver, Playwright, Professor Emeritus and Chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance, Texas Tech University