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Facing the year with skill, empathy, compassion

  • Category: Community
  • Posted On:
  • Written By: Deb Sutton, Sweetwater Memorial Marketing Director
Facing the year with skill, empathy, compassion

Thank You to everyone who supported us through the pandemic

2020 brought new services, physicians and leaders

The novel coronavirus – COVID-19.

Enough said.

It was at the forefront of every decision, medical procedure and protocol enacted or approved in the last year at Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County.

“It was like nothing we have ever dealt with before,” said CEO Irene Richardson. “It’s one of many emergency scenarios our Emergency Management team trains for, but one we had never faced on this scale. It really was our first rodeo.”

When the hospital set up its Incident Command COVID-19 Preparedness team March 2, it was one of the first healthcare institutions or county agencies statewide to follow the established protocols in setting up such a team.

“The IC team and the entire hospital staff rose to the challenge,” Richardson said. “We quickly changed visitation rules, established COVID-19 inpatient areas, inventoried and ordered personal protective equipment, and postponed elective procedures for a time, all in an effort to keep our patients and staff safe. Employees in every area of the hospital and its clinics followed the IC team’s lead in collaborating, solving problems and following strict Centers for Disease Control & Prevention rules.

“Through it all, the staff faced the challenges with skill, professionalism and empathy,” she said. “They continued to live up to our mission statement: Compassionate care for every life we touch.

“Like everyone, we hope to get past the stress we’ve all been under for the last 12 months,” she said. “However, we now know we can tackle large-scale emergencies with our staff of professionals and a community who supports us.”

When the community learned of the hospital’s needs, they stepped in to help.

“The community came to our aid in ways we could never have imagined,” said Marketing Director Deb Sutton. “We received and continue to receive donations of all kinds. They sewed masks and gowns, donated cases of PPE, dropped off food and treats for the staff, donated money to the Memorial Hospital Foundation’s COVID-19 Response Fund, and so much more.” (Please see the accompanying advertisements.)

Treating COVID-19 brought about a lot of changes and additions at the hospital:

  • Drive-Thru Swab Station: By the second week of March, the hospital opened a Drive-Thru Swab Station. To date, it has collected more than 23,000 swabs. To make an appointment, go to The drive-thru is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays and from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekends at 1200 College Drive.
  • Telehealth: Family Medicine Clinic of Sweetwater Memorial, along with many of our other specialty clinics offer telehealth services. Your provider is just a computer screen away. For details, call your provider.
  • UV Robots and more: These robots are among a variety of equipment the hospital was able to purchase through Coronavirus Relief Grants from Wyoming’s State, Loan and Investment Board. The hospital’s Environmental Services crew named the robots after the Jetsons – George, Jane, Rosie, Judy and Elroy. MHSC also used grant money for UVC lights, proning beds, a mobile response unit, analyzer equipment, Powered Air-Purifying Respirators, lab equipment, new air handling units, and more.
  • Temperature kiosks: Patients and visitors coming into the hospital or its clinics are met by a door monitor. Automatic temperature kiosks have speeded up the check-in process.
  • Outpatient laboratory: The Outpatient Medical Lab is temporarily housed between the hospital and the Specialty Clinics in the Foundation offices. It was one of several changes MHSC made to limit the number of people coming into the hospital.

New Clinics

During all of this, the hospital added a new clinic to the roster of the Specialty Clinics of Sweetwater Memorial.

Neurology Clinic of Sweetwater Memorial: Neurologist Dr. Prachi Pawar opened the clinic at 1180 College Drive in November. She can help with a wide variety of maladies – from migraines to seizures. Call 307-212-7570 for an appointment.

Sweetwater Walk-In Clinic: Under the leadership of Brian Barton, PA-C, the clinic marked its one-year anniversary in June 2020. It’s open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. weekdays at 3000 College Drive.

New services

Sweetwater Memorial has a variety of new services offered in its various departments and clinics:

  • 3D Mammogram was added to all the Imaging & Radiology Department has to offer. The Memorial Hospital Foundation purchased a Hologic 3D Dimension state-of-the-art mammography unit for the hospital in June.
  • Nitrous Oxide: In September, the Obstetrics Department began offering nitrous oxide to laboring mothers. MHSC is one of only three hospitals in the state to offer the safe anesthetic gas as a way to allow women more options and more control during their labor experience.
  • The COPE Program: The providers at the Pediatrics Clinic launched the program last year. It’s a seven-week cognitive behavioral therapy program for children, teens and young adults. Call 307-212-7717 for details.

New Physicians

In addition to Neurologist Dr. Pawar, the Specialty Clinics of Sweetwater Memorial gained some skillful physicians:

Dr. Lex Auguiste: The Obstetrician/Gynecologist began seeing patients at the Women’s Health Clinic of Sweetwater Memorial in early September. But, please, call him Dr. Lex. He moved to Rock Springs from Orlando, Florida, where he worked as an OB/GYN hospitalist at Women’s Care Florida. Prior to that, he lived in New York where he worked and received his education.

Dr. Joshua Binks: The Radiation Oncologist began seeing patients in early July at Sweetwater Regional Cancer Center. He and his wife moved to Rock Springs from Tucson, Ariz., where he recently completed a Radiation Oncology Residency at the University of Arizona Cancer Center.

Dr. Lucy Ryan: The board-certified pediatrician joined the Pediatric Clinic of Sweetwater Memorial in December 2019. She moved her from Texas, where she had lived all of her life. Now, she not only serves as a pediatrician in the outpatient pediatric clinic, but also provides inpatient pediatric care.

New Leaders

Sweetwater Memorial’s leadership team includes more than 35 professionals in just as many fields. Here are some of the new hires and promotions during the past 12 months:

Ann Clevenger: She accepted the position of Chief Nursing Officer in October, following the retirement of CNO Kristy Nielson. Clevenger has more than 20 years of extensive experience in multiple nursing leadership roles and practices, including MHSC Emergency Department clinical coordinator, MHSC Emergency Department staff nurse, and most recently, nursing instructor at Western Wyoming Community College.

Carrie Canestorp: With a strong background in coding and clinical documentation, she started work in October as Health Information Management director. She worked as a remote coding manager for Aviacode, as well as an advanced Emergency Medical Technician for South Lincoln Emergency Medical Services.

Jonathan Beattie: As the new Pharmacy Director, Beattie has been overseeing the Pharmacy Department since November. He moved to Rock Springs from Casper, where he worked as Pharmacy Director for Community Health Centers of Central Wyoming.

Lena Warren: She began working as coordinator for outreach and volunteer services in September. In late January, she was named Director of Community Outreach, which also includes working with the hospital’s nearly 40 volunteers.

Kim White: She started her new job Feb. 1 as the Director of Emergency Services. During her time at MHSC, she has held nursing roles in the Emergency Department as a staff nurse and Clinical Coordinator, Case Manager, and Clinical Documentation Specialist. She continues in her role as MHSC’s Incident Commander during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This is just a sampling, of what makes Sweetwater Memorial the best source for healthcare in southwestern Wyoming. Discover all that we have to offer at