RIDGWAY – Dr. Dave Sherwood does sinus infections. And he does sheetrock.
The longtime Ridgway family-medicine doctor and stalwart of Ouray County Search and Rescue has left the practice at Mountain Medical Center after 16 years to start his own business in Trail Town, across the river.
Sherwood is an adaptable man, a self-described “Army brat” who moved throughout his youth and joined the Air Force to pay for his medical school, a passionate photographer and darkroom aficionado, and now a hanger and taper of drywall. He’s converting unused space in the back of his wife Donna’s pharmacy building on Palomino Trail to a two-room, one-man doctor’s office. When visited last week, the exam rooms were hung but not yet taped or painted, and the tiny entry hall was dominated by becalmed eye-exam and blood-pressure machines.
“It seemed like time,” Sherwood said of the move. “Maybe a little faster than we planned, but when Patty died and Dale decided to leave the practice, it just seemed like time.”
Patty was Dr. Patricia Ammon, who died unexpectedly this summer. She and her husband, Nurse Practitioner Dale Yocum, had recruited Sherwood to Ridgway when they both worked at Mountain Medical in the 1980s, having taken over Dr. David Bachman’s practice. (Yocum left MMC to work in Montrose following Ammon’s death.)
“We met when I was in residency [in Casper, Wyo.]. I did a rotation here and afterward they said, ‘Want to come down and join us?’”
After finishing up his commitment to the Air Force – he ran the emergency room on a B-52 base in Minot, N.D. – the newly minted Dr. Sherwood did just that. “From 1996 to 2000, St. Mary’s [Hospital, in Grand Junction] ran the clinic. Then they ended all their rural clinics, and I took over in Ridgway.”
The Mountain Medical building, on Sherman Street in Ridgway, is owned by Ouray County. “A Regional Service Authority was set up to guarantee a medical practice in the county,” Sherwood said. It made sense back when there was only one provider, Bachman, a retired team doctor for the Chicago Bulls, who did yeoman’s work out of the old Idarado Mining Co. clinic in Ouray. “Now there are lots more providers,” Sherwood said. “Dr. Olson and his wife Shirley, who’s a nurse practitioner, in Ouray. Dr. Degenhart in Ridgway. Dr. Glanville in Ridgway. And Joel [Gates],” Sherwood’s former partner at MMC.
“The RSA needs to change. The building is far too large. It’s 5,000 square feet; it’s not completely utilized now.” Sherwood’s new, unfinished space is only temporary. He and Donna plan to expand the building to the south next summer, “but only by 800 square feet. It’s just smaller, simpler” to be on his own, Sherwood said. The only thing he won’t have in his new space is an x-ray machine. He plans to bring back his long-time assistant Jodi Schultz, who has lately been with Western Orthopedics in Montrose. “She’ll have the [miniscule] middle office. It’ll be the Dave and Jodi show.”
Sherwood said he hasn’t been much involved with the county’s SAR team of late. “Not since our EMS system got up to speed. We have paramedics now, paid positions!” The vest he was wearing did sport a round “Ouray County Search and Rescue” patch.
Sherwood’s eyes twinkled when I asked if I could take a photo and mumbled something about the automatic settings on the camera. “My daughter Alexandra is in school in Denver, and her photography teacher asked me to come set up a dark room for her class. I think that’s so important. To understand how light works. I was an art major at Alma College in central Michigan. I was the photo editor of the yearbook. In the early 90s I did lots of medical illustration for legal cases. I thought about going back to school for an MFA in illustration. The illustration paid better, but it wasn’t as much fun as medicine!”
Sherwood’s patients from MMC can request their records be transferred to the new place across the river.
Referring again to his artistic side, Sherwood asked if I’d seen the decidedly unconventional skeleton in the hallway at Mountain Medical. “That was my senior art project: a combination of medicine, art and auto shop!”
It may be a while before there is room for the skeleton in the doctor’s new space.