Sigler celebrates 25 years at Cottonwood clinic
It was 25 years ago last month that Dr. Ron Sigler saw his first patient at the newly opened St. Mary’s Hospital Cottonwood clinic. After graduating from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School he packed his bags and headed to Idaho. “I knew I wanted to settle in a rural area in the west. I like having a practice in a more sparsely populated area because that’s where a doctor can make the biggest difference.” He’s been making that difference in Kamiah and Cottonwood ever since.
Dr. Sigler joined Dr Darrell Stoddard in 1984 as the first hired physicians. SMHC now has seven family practice doctors and three family nurse practitioners. I had no idea the hospital was so close to closing when I was hired, joked Dr. Sigler. Last year, however, their four clinics had over 35,000 visits.
“I decided to become a doctor during my first year of college at my brother’s suggestion. He knew I really enjoyed working with people and since I wasn’t that crazy about the business course I was taking I decided to switch,” said Dr. Sigler. “I love family practice because it involves almost every form of medicine. A specialist deals with only one aspect of medicine, but in a family practice setting you see pediatric through geriatric patients and treat all types of conditions, illnesses and injuries. It’s exciting and gratifying.”
In addition to seeing patients in the Cottonwood and Kamiah Medical clinics, Dr. Sigler also regularly rounds on patients while they’re in the hospital and sees his patients at Grangeville Health and Rehab.
“Dr. Sigler is one of the most caring people I know. It is not unusual for him to slip away from the clinic to attend the funeral of one of his patients. I’ve even known him to travel to Lewiston or even Spokane to visit patients he has had to refer elsewhere,” said Theresa Uptmor, who was hired by SMHC shortly before Dr. Sigler. “More than once I’ve seen his car in the driveway of one of his patients visiting them on his way to or from work just to check on them. He is the most kind hearted person not only towards his patients, but towards our staff also.”
When he is not at work in the clinic or hospital you may find Dr. Sigler on his bicycle. He’s the one in scrubs. He, along with Dr. Teel Bruner, are assistant coaches for the Prairie High School football team. Dr Sigler played football in college.
“When it comes to recognizing people for their contributions to the good health of people on the Prairie, I’d like to salute a number of people including Dr. Wayne Hollopeter who has been providing care in the area for over 30 years. Dr. William Orr was a doctor here for over 57 years and Dr Rockwell and Dr. Bill Greenwood had practices in Grangeville, too,” said Dr. Sigler. “I’d also like to recognize all the nurses I’ve worked with. Julie Church has been with me in Cottonwood for 12 years and Kathy Ward has worked with me in Kamiah for 24 years. I can’t say enough good things about all the people I work with. I’m just one member of a great team.”
Dr. Sigler, Theresa Uptmor and Marilyn Becker, RN, and other longevity award winners will be honored at the annual SMHC employee picnic this week.