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First surgeries performed at Pagosa Springs hospital

The dream began 30 years ago with the formation of the Upper San Juan Health Service District (USJHSD).

Just three years ago, the Pagosa Springs Critical Access Hospital was built, complete with an operating and procedure room. Until this month, though, neither of those rooms had been used for their intended purposes.

On Monday, Aug. 1, for the first time in its history, surgery was performed at the local hospital.

Dr. Dave Shaeffer, the new general surgeon at the Pagosa Springs Medical Center (PSMC), performed the first surgery at the facility — a hernia repair. He was assisted in the operating room by his wife, Dr. Amber Reiss-Holt.

Judy Cole, director of surgical services at PSMC, said that, “As prepared as we were, I was still a little nervous.” However, she continued, “The team was very prepared and works very well together. We were very pleased.”

Cole was not the only one who thought the surgery went well.

Dr. Shaeffer was extremely satisfied with how the surgery was performed and was satisfied with the subsequent five surgeries that he and the PSMC surgical team have performed. As of publication date, Shaeffer has completed three hernia repairs, a bowel resection and removed a gall bladder using a laparoscope.

“We are very excited to offer this service to the community,” PSMC CEO Brad Cochennet said. “We are excited to get some basic needs addressed here so people don’t have to drive so far away.”

There are more hernia repairs scheduled at the center this month, and the PSMC staff anticipates appendectomies to be scheduled in the future as patients’ needs are served.

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