By Beth Dodd:
When you picture a typical small town hospital, you may imagine an outdated and understaffed facility with minimal services, but the Pikes Peak Regional Hospital & Surgery Center in Woodland Park is quite the opposite. This state-of-the-art community hospital offers the latest in innovative technology and high quality health care right here in Teller County.
Some of the care options at the Pikes Peak Hospital include emergency services, surgery, orthopedics, ophthalmology, reconstructive plastic surgery, laboratory services, modern diagnostic imaging, inpatient and outpatient care, physical therapy, transition care, telemedicine, and even an online patient healthcare library. Now in its sixth year of operation, the hospital offers a top notch array of services and highly skilled staff. For example, the hospital’s Chief of Staff, Dr. Richard Malyszek, is a general surgeon with military combat experience and the ability to take on any situation. He joined the Army Medical Corps as a new surgeon after the 9/11 terrorists attacks in 2001. He was assigned to the Womack Army Medical Center in Fort Bragg, NC, and became the Chief of General Surgery while awaiting deployment. Dr. Malyszek was assigned to the 2nd Armored Cavalry Airborne Forward Surgical Team and deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
This 21 member front line mobile resuscitative surgery group stabilized critically injured soldiers, and worked to preserve life, limb, and vision, before passing their patients on to other facilities for further care. During this tour, Malyszek was awarded four medals, recommended for the Bronze Star, and received recognition from the commanding general for his surgical care, command, and control during the attack on the United Nations Headquarters in Baghdad on August 20, 2003 which resulted in 196 casualties. He operated alone on both military and civilian victims for two days straight during the incident. Sometime afterwards, Malyszek was appointed to the William Beaumont Army Medical Center as the Chief of the General Surgery Clinic and General Surgery Residency Program Director, and then did a second tour in Iraq with the 745th Army Forward Surgical Team. He spent roughly three of his four years in the Army in Iraq, before leaving the military to enter private practice in 2005. He then hung out his shingle out in rural Idaho, where he was the only surgeon for three communities. He cared for roughly 2,100 patients a year and averaged 700 miles a week in travel, before coming to Woodland Park in 2007 to work at the Pikes Peak Regional Hospital & Surgery Center. His experiences have taught Dr. Malyszek that the calmer you are in a critical situation, the calmer everyone else around you becomes.
Malyszek’s grace under pressure and surgical skill made all the difference to the Williams family of Woodland Park in April 2011. Red Williams had checked into the Pikes Peak Hospital after several days of severe stomach pain. He was diagnosed with a potentially life-threatening ruptured appendix. Dr. Malyszek quickly operated on Williams, who stopped breathing at one point during the surgery. Williams made a full recovery and was able to return home just five days later. “I had heard about his skill, but then I got to experience it,” said Williams of Malyszek. “He made me feel good when I met him. The nursing staff there is also incredible.” Although Williams claims Malyszek saved his life, the doctor credited the whole team at Pikes Peak Hospital with William’s happy outcome. “I’m a doctor. So what?” said Malyszek. “It’s just a job I decided to do. I’m no better than the person who sweeps the floor.” In additional to his medical expertise, Dr. Malyszek a.k.a ‘Dr. Rick’ is known for his kindness and good works in the community. For example, he once drove through a snow storm to personally transport a patient, and makes time to spend time with the members of Senior Circle, the hospital’s senior health support group, recently appearing as Santa at a senior’s luncheon.
Of course, in spite of excellent physicians like Dr. Malyszek, the hospital is not a place where anyone wants to spend time if they can avoid it, but it’s good to know that top quality help is here in our community whenever we may need it. In fact, according to HCAHPS (Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems), a national survey that asks patients about their experiences during a recent hospital stay, patients preferred Pikes Peak Regional Hospital over both Memorial Central Hospital and Penrose Saint Francis Hospital in Colorado Springs. Pikes Peak was given the highest marks in all ten categories surveyed including doctor and nurse communication with patients, a clean and quiet environment, and if the patient would recommend the hospital to someone else.