Jan 03, 2018 09:44AM ● Published by Digital Media Director
When Larry Veitz, the longtime president of Regional Health Spearfish Hospital and the Spearfish and Belle Fourche Markets, died in an ATV accident in early November, he left behind more than a grieving family and community. He also left behind a significant legacy of vision for healthcare in Spearfish - a vision that his successor, Thomas Worsley, is proud to be carrying forward.
Worsley, who is married to a nurse and has four children, has been with Regional Health since 2015. He has served as VP of the Regional Health Rapid City market, but as the new interim president of Spearfish Hospital, he will be turning his attention now to the healthcare facility that Becker’s last year called a Top 100 rural hospital.
“Spearfish is a growing community with about a 20-mile radius of smaller rural communities that rely on us and our 50-bed hospital as their primary place to receive healthcare,” says Worsley While Spearfish is increasingly well-equipped to meet those needs (services like same-day total joints and 3D mammography are available here), what they do not have is space.
“We are pretty much bursting at the seams here,” says Worsley. “We have clinics that don’t have the capacity to add additional providers and the hospital itself is landlocked.”
But that is about to change. In late November, a 40-acre land donation marked the start of a fundraising drive to create a $100 million healthcare campus on the north edge of Spearfish.
“It is going to be a campus that is focused beyond a traditional hospital. It is going to be a true wellness campus with things like cooking demonstrations and wellness classes,” says Worsley. “It will be transformative in its scale and scope.”
Although Veitz did not live to see it, Worsley says the planned campus owes much to his passion for rural medicine. “He had been working for many years on different iterations of what an expanded healthcare campus would look like,” says Worsley. “He was a key player in narrowing down on this vision and this location.”
But Worsley says Larry Veitz did more than push for more progressive rural healthcare; he was also a mentor to those he knew would carry the torch after him.
“Larry was really viewed as a sage,” says Worsley. “When i think of him, I think of someone who was wise and really wasn’t interested in just keeping that wisdom to himself. It was a rich experience to interact with him and learn from him."