Institution started in 1932 by Dr. Stanford Rees has now grown into a top-rated independent facility
GUNNISON – This new year marks a landmark milestone for Gunnison Valley Hospital as it celebrates its 90th birthday in 2022.
GVH has upheld the mission of providing quality care to Central Utah dating all the way back to 1932 when Dr. Stanford Rees first began practicing in the valley.
Tucked away in the heart of Sanpete County, it is one of only nine independent hospitals in the state of Utah. It boasts 25 beds, a state-of-the-art operating center, and supports over 25 providers with several specialties.
In a state with multiple large healthcare corporations, a place like Gunnison Valley Hospital has stood the test of time. Some may wonder what has drawn both patients and providers alike to the humble, yet pristine, Gunnison Valley Hospital. The answer lies within the hospital’s history and its active effort of upholding the traditions, culture, and values instilled 90 years ago by founder Dr. Stanford Rees.
Dr. Stanford Rees was born in Scipio, Utah, on Nov. 1, 1905. Upon completion of medical school and additional training, he worked under a physician in Helper, Utah. After a year in Helper, he decided to start his own practice.
Be it fate or something else, Dr. Rees drove south into Gunnison Valley and decided it would be a good place to live, and the young doctor was out of gas and money. So, with that, Gunnison Valley Hospital’s roots were planted in 1932, when Dr. Rees opened his practice in an office above the old bank building.
Dr. Rees and his wife, Frances, who worked alongside him as his nurse, dedicated their lives to their family and the medical profession. They worked tirelessly night and day to provide quality healthcare to Central Utah, something that Gunnison Valley Hospital has continued to make a priority.
After several years of practicing at the old bank building, Dr. Rees realized the need for an official hospital in the Gunnison Valley. At that time, he was having to use the Salina Hospital.
In 1940, Dr. Rees built what is now remembered as the “Old Hospital” into a home for his family, an office space for himself, and an eleven-bed hospital on the top floor.
In 1949, as a true reflection of Dr. Rees, his family, and their love for the valley, they sold the hospital building to the community for $1 with the stipulation that the hospital would continue to operate.
Dr. Lamar H. Stewart joined Dr. Rees in 1955 and eventually built his clinic directly to the east, and the hospital continued to grow. A hospital board was organized that consisted of at least one representative from Gunnison, Centerfield, Mayfield, Fayette, and Axtell, with the purpose of overseeing the operation and maintenance of the hospital.
Over time, the old hospital building faced structural defects, and could no longer keep up with the increasing volume of patients. The Hill-Burton Act brought along an opportunity for the hospital to receive a federal grant that would go toward the cost of a new building.
A special bond election was held to determine if the valley would support the board’s request for a new hospital. 608 votes were cast in favor, with only 23 against it. Construction costs were at nearly half a million dollars, but with bonds, grants, and most importantly, donations from the community, the new hospital was opened in May of 1970.
In 1976, Dr. Von Pratt joined the staff at GVH, soon to be followed by Dr. Jan Christensen and Dr. Richard Nay. Many more hospital additions and providers have been added through the years.
It is with great pride that many members of the community can say they “helped build the hospital.” Over the years, the hospital continued to evolve and grow. The hospital would not be standing today if it were not for the community’s vested interest in maintaining a place where loved ones can receive the highest quality of care over the past nine decades.
Whether you were delivered into this world at GVH, held a loved one’s hand for the last time, or visited a sick friend, very few people in Central Utah have made it through this life without being impacted by the loving and compassionate staff of Gunnison Valley Hospital.
The GVH administration, providers, and staff want to thank the community for 90 years of support and wish to continue to serve and improve the lives of the community for the next 90 years.