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St. Luke's in Fruitland: '... the true spirit of St. Luke ...'

Hundreds of patients, Fruitland-area residents, and St. Luke's team members joined the party.
By Dr. David C. Pate, News and Community
August 12, 2014

St. Luke’s is committed to improving the health of people in our region. That’s our mission.

Hundreds of patients, Fruitland-area residents, and St. Luke's team members joined the party.

Our recent grand opening celebration of the Fruitland Medical Plaza and our emergency department there showed just how deep that commitment goes, and how passionately that mission is held.

Our mission is compelling. In just the first few weeks, use of St. Luke’s programs and services at the new Fruitland location has far exceeded our plans and expectations, and kept dozens of people from needing to travel farther for needed care.

Bruce Jensen, who directs St. Luke’s planning for the western part of our service area, gave us a peek at the spirit that makes our mission so compelling and that is shared by so many of the residents of those communities that we serve.

During the opening celebration, he spoke movingly of having lived in the area, near the Oregon border, for 10 years and seeing three of his children complete high school there.

“We love this community,” he said. “We love the people.”

He talked about that same commitment in a legendary humanitarian and community institution, Dr. Morris Smith, who Bruce noted is “still going strong” at nearly 79.

Dr. Smith graduated from the Medical College of Virginia in 1964 and was too busy caring for patients to attend his recent class reunion, Bruce told the hundreds of attendees at our celebration.

Dr. Smith has worked in 10 different states across a variety of settings, from classrooms to emergency departments to Yellowstone National Park. Traits of dedication to all-consuming effort came from his father, Bruce said, and passion, from Dr. Smith’s mother.

“He loves the patients and he loves their families,” Bruce said.

It was at night at a hospital in New Mexico in 1965, however, that Dr. Smith was transformed by his chosen profession. Fears of contagion kept a 2-year-old girl’s parents from holding her, so Dr. Smith, an intern at the time, rocked the toddler in his arms as she passed away.

Dr. Smith’s 50 years of caring compassion are a blessing to the Fruitland community, and his touch, and the spirit of the region and the St. Luke’s family that turned out in force to celebrate the occasion, were well summarized in the blessing that Chaplain Ron Wilde shared.

Here are Chaplain Wilde’s words:

Our hope and prayer is that this building will be a special place of healing and wholeness, a place where every person regardless of income, race, or any other dividing factor may experience the best of medical science in a caring environment.

May each door be blessed to signify openness of care to all who are ill, injured, or hurting.

May the windows be clear to signify integrity and the light of hope.

May each room couple technology and beauty, and science with compassion.

But more importantly than brick or mortar, steel and concrete, may this building be filled with workers—physicians, nurses, technicians, and all sorts of skilled individuals—whose hands deliver great care with great wisdom.

We also want to pray for all the people of this community and surrounding region. May the continuing presence of St. Luke’s through this new facility enhance health care and life for each person.

And finally, allow us as individuals to represent and embody the true spirit of St. Luke, the physician, who lived his life compassionately meeting the needs of those who were sick and hurting.

I could not agree more.

About The Author

David C. Pate, M.D., J.D., previously served as president and CEO of St. Luke's Health System, based in Boise, Idaho. Dr. Pate joined the System in 2009 and retired in 2020. He received his medical degree from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and his law degree from the University of Houston Law Center.