After 26 years as the administrator at Sevier Valley Hospital, Gary Beck is retiring.
Beck started down the path of healthcare administration as a profession while a student at Utah State University.
“I participated in two internships at Primary Children’s Hospital,” Beck said. “I thought, ‘this is great.’”
Once he finished his formal education, Beck worked at a Catholic hospital in Youngstown, Ohio, for three years. Wanting to get back to his home state, Beck then accepted a position in Roosevelt, where he worked for another two years.
From there, he moved to Richfield to serve as SVH’s administrator.
“My wife said ‘I could be here for five years,’” Beck said. “We’ve been here for 26 … I loved what I was doing and it came together for our family.
“I can’t imagine a more rewarding opportunity,” Beck said. “What other place can you raise your family four blocks from where you work?”
Beck said while the job guiding a rural hospital is fulfilling, being in Richfield has been rewarding on a personal level as well.
“This is such a great place, we just fell in love with the people,” Beck said. Being in a small town has allowed Beck to be involved in other things, such as coaching freshmen basketball at Richfield High School and recreation youth basketball.
In his time at the hospital, Beck has overseen three upgrades to the hospital’s emergency department.
“With the last ER, we thought we were in heaven with the curtains,” Beck said. However, use of the facility increased, and laws requiring improved privacy protections made the latest remodel a necessity.
The hospital has also added operating room suites, which has helped attract more specialists to the area.
“It really became a case of if you build it, they will come,” Beck said.
One such example was that of the dialysis center. For several years the hospital wrestled with the financial sustainability of offering dialysis locally. Initially it was believed that it would only be serving six people, Beck said. However, with a leap of faith and support from community leaders, the dialysis center was established. Within weeks the center was serving 20 patients.
“We thought we’d lose and it would come out of the bottom line of the hospital,” Beck said. “But what a blessing for that group of people who need it.”
Working with great physicians and nurses has been a highlight during his years as the administrator, Beck said.
“It’s really come a long way,” Beck said.
With more specialists on site, the hospital has been able to continue to expand its offerings. Now it has oncology, which helps people who would have otherwise had to travel two hours to get regular treatments.
Telehealth is an innovation that has opened up a new world to patients in rural Utah. Instead of having to travel, specialists can confer with patients via live video stream.
Using video stream technology, the hospital is also able to offer help to people in crisis, as well as bringing in additional help when needed in the neonatology department.
“There has been a lot of change and a lot of good things have developed here,” Beck said. “It sends a strong message to the community that we are committed to providing quality healthcare.”
While there has been improvement, Beck said he acknowledges that costs have continued to increase.
“Healthcare costs are crazy,” Beck said. He said the good thing is that Utah has one of the lowest costs per capita, and that Intermountain — the company that owns SVH — works to keep costs down.
Beck is retiring from his post as the administrator. He and his wife, Bobbi, are planning on serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They have raised five children in Richfield, and have nine grandchildren.
Beck’s replacement at the hospital, Brent Schmidt, was announced earlier this year.