Articles published in the Blue Mountain Panorama

This blog was created to preserve digitally, articles written by Janet Wilcox for the Blue Mountain Panorama. This newspaper is published in Blanding, Utah by Neil and Becky Joslin. By publishing digitally, more photographs can be added, and your comments and corrections can be quickly noted. Thanks for reading my articles in the newspaper, as well as on the Internet. If you have ideas for stories, please contact me at

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Divine Dining in Dietary: Blue Mountain Hospital Food Fare

 Croissant Sandwiches, Chicken pesto, Reubens, homemade soups and fresh baked goods --  not the usual menu for  normal hospital fare. But then not every hospital has its own chef and experienced caterer as head of the dietary division.  Debra King, a California transplant, claims that title at Blue Mountain Hospital in Blanding where she has worked since it opened in 2009.

She is enthralled to be in San Juan County, and loves her job, and the “phenomenal cooks “ she works with whom include Denise Arthur, Megan Lacy, Holly Pederson, Rochelle Myrick and Nathan Begaye.  Cheyna Shumway Palmer has also been on board as a dietary planner with this crew for 6 months, having graduated with a BS in Dietetics. She is responsible for determining nutritional needs, especially for dialysis patients.

  “I just love it here and all the hospital staff,” Debra emphasized. “It is great working for an organization that has a vision for the future, big dreams and the desire to make this hospital something grand.”  She credits CEO Donna Singer, for that drive and spirit of teamwork permeating the facility. 
Besides preparing individual computerized diet cards for all hospital patients, the dietary staff also prepares food each day for the hospital staff and community walk ins, so they keep things sizzling in the kitchen.  Though small and compact it meets the needs of the BMH. This gourmet group made their first public breakout dinner on Valentines weekend, followed in March with an evening “Spring Fling” dinner.  Call 678-4835 for lunch specials or orders.

Debra and her mom moved from bustling California to San Juan County, east of Monticello in 2002, where they now have a little ranch with two horses.  “I could never live in a town again,” she emphasized -- adding, “I love the open space, and looking at the Horsehead every day when I get up.“ 
 “Deb King, Queen of cuisine” (as Dr. Mitchell calls her) began her food career as a produce buyer, then worked as a cinema chef at Universal Studio from 1983-1987.  This consisted of feeding actors and crew on location at movie sites.  She worked with an Australian chef, running one of the first gourmet food trucks in the business, and rubbing shoulders with the likes of Ernest Borgnine, Bert Reynolds, Martin Sheen, Danny Devito and Tom Selleck, often working at the Disney Ranch and Universal Studios back lot. 

It was during that time that she also snagged her first big job catering for the 1984 LA Olympics at the Yacht Venue.  She worked non-stop for 6 weeks and “had a blast” keeping the hungry competitors fed from 7 AM-midnight. 

That same year she started her own restaurant, The Noon Room, on the back lot at Universal studios which she ran for 6 ½ years.  During those years she also took many food specific courses learning everything she could about pastries and entrees.  One of the best birthday presents she ever received was from a friend who gifted her a weekend pastry course in San Francisco.  ”I just like to cook and that course was really fun!” 

     As much as she loved cooking, the next 15 years took a career turn for her, as she became cosmetics director for Robison-May Company, where she worked until 2002.   By then her mom had retired and both were ready for a move to a simpler, quieter lifestyle.  The Four Corners area had been part of their vacations for years, and was Debra was always intrigued by the Navajo culture.  Finally she and her mom made the move.  “My original goal was to have a herd of goats and make cheese,“ she added, “but that’s on hold for a while.”

She still has two married sons in California and five grandchildren, so the California connection is still strong, but for sure, her new San Juan County connection has bonded equally well.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Blue Mountain Hospital Employs Skilled Locals

Blanding Health Highnotes
From scrub nurses, to dietary staff, doctors, dialysis unit, radiologists, administrators, and pharmacists the Blue Mountain Hospital in Blanding has become a beacon to well-trained medical professionals and  technicians in all fields.  For decades San Juan County’s most abundant export was always its youth, who had to move away to large cities find good jobs. Now with Blue Mountain Hospital’s bright light of opportunity beckoning, many have been able to return and practice their professional skills. During the next several months the Panorama will spotlight some of these UNHS and BMH employees who have helped raise the quality of medical care in rural SE Utah.

Mountain Encounter leads Pharmacist to Blue Mountain Pharmacy

Dr. Chad Moses PharmD, (SJHS class of 1998) is excited about his job as Pharmacy Director of Utah Navajo Health System and Blue Mountain Hospital and he’s been given opportunities that a normal graduate would never experience in a larger city, or working for a big box pharmacy. 

“In high school I had no vision of what my future would be, and then in the middle of my mission I got sick and had to come home for a while,” Chad explained.  “It was then that my grandfather made the suggestion that I should become a pharmacist.” Chad credits good math instruction from Richard Pincock in high school for helping him in college.  “Accurately using a calculator, and doing factoring is critical knowledge for a pharmacy student,” he stressed.

Chad attended Snow College for undergraduate work from 2001 to 2003. “I thought the undergraduate classes were tough, but my eyes were opened to real difficulty in graduate school,” he explained. “A typical day was school from 8 am to 4 pm and then a job as a valet parking attendant until 1-2 am. Luckily, I was able to study on the job.”  Chad married Tiawna Harrison from Moab in Aug of 2002, and they have two children, Olivia and Andrew. 

The University of Southern Nevada Pharmacy School, was his next challenge, where he earned his Doctorate of Pharmacy or PharmD in 2006.  “I never thought I’d be coming back to San Juan County.  At that time I was looking for the largest sign on bonus, I could find, and my parents just happened to run into the UNHS pharmacy manager on top of Blue Mountain and they had an open position. “  That chance meeting led to a referral and contact from CEO Donna Singer, who encouraged Chad to apply.
At the time he was preparing for the National Exam, which he passed on the first try, and by the end of that summer he was working in Montezuma Creek, and happy to be back in San Juan County, though he didn’t get a sign on bonus.  Chad’s enthusiasm for his job is contagious, and he’s had ample opportunity to determine not only the direction but also the equipment and strategies used by pharmacies under his supervision.

One important piece of equipment in the Blanding, and Montezuma Creek pharmacies is a ScriptPro Robot, which finds the Rx by barcode, laser counts the pills, and labels each prescription in a matter of minutes.  It stocks up to 200 different medications.

In 2008 there was a change in pharmacy management within Utah Navajo Health System, and Moses was put in charge of the pharmacy arm. At that time there were three pharmacists and two technicians working for UNHS at two different sites. Now there are six pharmacists and six technicians working at four sites including the hospital and a clinical pharmacist position.

Working with Chad in the back at Blue Mountain Hospital Pharmacy is Dr. Heidi Dowell PharmD. In the retail side of Blue Mountain Pharmacy is Pharmacist Doug Card RPh and licensed technicians Seth Dowell, Regina Lee, and Keshia Yellow. 

Chad is also responsible for three other pharmacies under the umbrella of Utah Navajo Health System. In Monument Valley he works with Dr. Angela Konecki PharmD, and Melissa Joe technician in training.  At Navajo Mountain he coordinates with Gary Teare PAC as a physician dispensing class B branch pharmacy, and at the Montezuma Creek Clinic Dr. Albert Noyes PharmD, Dr. Heidi Dowell PharmD, and technicians Yolanda Yanito and Kelly Keith are on his team.

In 2008 Utah Navajo Health System was selected to participate in the Health and Human Resources (HRSA) health initiative called the Patient Safety and clinical Pharmacy Collaborative (PSPC) with the University of Utah, Poison Control, and the Association for Utah Community Health (AUCH).This collaborative encourages patient safety in medication use by a comprehensive medication education program for the patients. 

Chad explained, “When medications are used properly they can save or preserve life, but when used improperly they can either cause injury or death.” This has been especially beneficial for patients being treated with high risk medications such as Insulin and Coumadin. Utah Navajo Health System currently has 30 patients in the pharmacist run Coumadin Clinic. This clinic helps evaluate Coumadin therapy counsel patients, track progress, make dose adjustments, and improve the overall outcome for patients on Coumadin therapy.

Nationally pharmacists are beginning to be recognized as an integral part of the health care team not just prescription dispensers. He said, “Our department is doing things now, that aren’t typical in big box pharmacies and patients benefit greatly from this service. Virtually every part of health care involves medications so it only makes sense that the pharmacist is part of that health care team. We are the drug specialists it is what we were trained to do. We are no longer just dispensers we are involved in patient care. The pharmacist is a resource to medical providers, nurses, patients, and their families.”

UNHS in San Juan County is also a busy practice site for PharmD interns in their last year of pharmacy school from University of Utah where they participate in medication reconciliation and patient education. Chad was instrumental in setting up the pharmacy practice site for these students and was their preceptor.

Currently Chad works primarily at the Blue Mountain Hospital. Patient safety, as far as medications are concerned, is Chad’s number one priority.