SPRINGERVILLE — The public gathered outside the White Mountain Regional Medical Center Wednesday night to mark the facility’s 60th anniversary. The event included speakers, a meal and a chance to gather with friends and neighbors.
Speakers marked the survival of the town’s small rural hospital at a time when simialr facilities are closing across the nation. At least 98 rural hospitals have closed nationwide since 2010. White Mountai Regional Medical Center is one of 15 critical access hospitals serving rural and remote areas of the state where medical care is not readily available.
Greg Was, White Mountain Regional Medical Center’s CEO, welcomed the public to the 60 year anniversary celebration.
“It’s not the building. It’s not the equipment. It’s the people,” he said of the hospital’s success and importance.
The hospital was a source of pride for the community, but also, Mr. Was pointed out, a reflection of the community through the staff, doctors, board of directors, and all the volunteers that have supported the hospital for the past 60 years.
“To all of you, thank you for being there for our journey,” Was said.
Dr. Carla Rotering also spoke.
“In rural healthcare, there’s a connection. There’s a sense that we are communal, that we are a community,” Dr. Rotering said. “And one of the things that I know about this heathcare organization is that it echoes what it takes to create unity between a community and a healthcare organization.”
Dr. Roger Williams, the medical director of the Emergency Department, spoke about commitment and the importance of mutual goals and working together for community health.
“I hope that in 60 years there will be a much larger gathering, and we’ll have an even more impressive facility, doing more things for the community here. And the 120th anniversary will be more than double what this is.”
Amber Shepard is an local journalist covering municipal governments and other Apache County topics.