U of U Health honors Dr. Val Jones

Dr. Val Jones, of Blanding, was recently awarded the Clinical Champion Award, by University of Utah Health.

The Clinical Champion Award honors clinical providers who go above and beyond in delivering health care to the regions they serve. Dr. Jones received the award, during the U of U Health annual affiliate dinner, in April. Jones said he was told of the award about a month before the affiliate dinner.

“I tried to talk them out of it,” he joked. “But they insisted.”

“Dr. Jones has clearly been a champion for health care in San Juan County, being one of the major reasons that specialty care is available at UNHS, so patients don’t have to travel to receive care,” stressed Suzanne Young, Public Relations and Marketing Manager for U of U Health.

Dr. Jones’ award was accompanied by a video commissioned by U of U Health, and produced by a videographer from Moab. This video highlights Dr. Jones and his career with UNHS. It can be viewed on the Blue Mountain Hospital Facebook page. In the video, Jones talks about growing up in Blanding, deciding early on he wanted to be a physician and that Blanding was the only place he’d ever want to be. He returned to Blanding in 1989 and has practiced ‘very happily’ in San Juan County ever since.

“For several years I was the only provider in Blanding and care was very limited,” he says. “We had no specialists coming here. People would have to drive to Salt Lake or Provo or other places to see specialists and it’s a minimum of 4 and a half to 6 hours driving. Actually, I think people didn’t get as good a health care as they could have if specialty care was available locally.”

UNHS came into existence in 2000 with the idea of providing health care to impoverished, underserved resi- dents. Since that time UNHS has expanded into four clinics throughout the county, with over 300 employees and seventeen providers. Jones says being rural and remote has been challenging and rewarding because UNHS can help people in many areas. He also says the affiliation of UNHS and Blue Mountain Hospital with U of U Health has been a great advantage for both organizations and their patients. Specialists, including cardiologists, visit San Juan County regularly. And the availability of tele-medicine with several of the departments at the University of Utah has been a great service. These include tele-neurology, tele-dermatology and  tele-psychology.

“Our efforts to improve local access to specialty care has made a huge difference to people, and we’re real proud of that,” he added.

Dr. Val Jones was the original provider for UNHS when it started serving patients eighteen years ago with only a handful of employees. He is currently the Chief Medical Officer for Utah Navajo Health System, Inc. He also practices at Blue Mountain Hospital, in Blanding.