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FHW Women, Part 1

Woven through the many conversations with Family Health West women in preparation for Women’s History Month, emerged the resiliency of staff, the passion for caring for each other and patients, and the deep roots of building history together. As you’ll read, FHW has been a place where girls grew into women, remained resilient through raising kids, adult trials, and challenges. Continuing through until retirement comes knocking.

Historical Photos of Fruita & Western Colorado – Fruita Community Hospital, circa 1922.
Marlene Halstead provided this photo to the Historical Society. It’s a hand-retouched photograph of the Fruita Community Hospital on South Elm Street, taken soon after it opened and before they enclosed the balconies and covered the “Graidene” sign with a “Fruita Hospital” sign. The building had been the Graidene Hotel when Dr. James S. Orr bought it in 1922 to turn it into Fruita’s first full-service hospital for both men and women. Marlene Halstead is a great-granddaughter of the early Fruita doctor Robert B. Porter, and the photo has come down through her family.

Beth Carlucci

Beth Carlucci was a nurse for 59 years who said she loved her work. An added perk was living in Fruita and working so close to home, she didn’t even have to drive to work and her family was all here in Fruita.

“My first love was surgery,” Beth said. “I was an instrument nurse assisting the doctors.”
When surgery went away (from FHW) because there wasn’t an anesthesiologist she said she had to work the hospital floor. Eventually, she worked in The Willows (Memory Care).

Back when Beth was assisting with surgeries, she said they did a lot of different types of surgeries. Dr. Monroe did major surgeries, as Beth described it. Cesareans and bowel obstructions, orthopedic surgeries. She also recalled working with Dr. Wilson, Dr. JS Orr, and Dr. Robert Orr (father and son).

Beth also recalled when the community got together to create a coordinated effort to start a hospital in Fruita. They got the money raised and they built the Fruita Community Hospital where quite a few births occurred.

“The old hospital – it’s a rooming house now,” she said.

Over the years and even to this day, Beth sees former patients when she’s out in the community. She recalls fondly caring for each of them at different times in their lives and seeing them flourish today (or over the years) as they have lived their lives.

Carol Sturgeon – 1984

As a Christian missionary, her passion work took young Carol Sturgeon around the world from New Mexico to Brazil and eventually to Western Colorado. She joined Family Health West in 1984 and retired June 5, 2021, with her husband, four children, and seven grandchildren by her side.

Carol still runs into people she cared for at FHW while at the local grocery store and they still fondly recall her gentle touch and warm smile for them or a family member.

“I became a nurse because I love people,” she said.

She recalls a time when she would go into Independence Village and take the blood pressure of residents. Now she uses her nursing skills to volunteer at a summer camp and her mother-in-law is a resident at FHW Memory Care (formerly the Willows). Carol has been a patient who utilizes the lab, radiology, and the hospital – enjoying the convenience of how close great care is to her home.

“I tell people today that Family Health West is the best,” she said. “We are a family and have always helped each other in and out of work, celebrating life with each other over the years.”
Carol went on to say Errol Snider and Dennis Ficklin both had a great sense of community and family over the years, and they encouraged leadership and supported each of us as employees. Similar to the leadership of today with Dr. Klein being so humble and Lori Randall having such a heart, Carol said.

“It was the care for people in a small family atmosphere,” that filled Carol’s heart with loyalty for her work at FHW and she sees so many working for FHW today that feel exactly the same way.

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