On November 5, 2009, the Kane County Hospital hosted an ice cream social honoring Director of Nursing Rosalie Esplin’s 50 years of dedicated service. It was a celebration, a gathering of friends and family, and a time to reminisce, compare experiences, anecdotes and history.

The first hospital was built through the efforts of Dr. George Aiken. In 1934, he purchased land in the northwest part of Kanab to build a hospital. It was completed in 1936. Mr. and Mrs. H. Maxwell of Glendale were the parents of the first baby born in the new hospital. The baby was delivered free of charge and nicknamed “Freeborn” by Dr. Aiken.

The county purchased the hospital from Dr. Aiken in 1943 for $15,000. This included the grounds, the buildings, and the equipment. The hospital underwent extensive improvements in January of 1949 and expanded in 1950. Considered as the “old, old” hospital, it is no longer standing.

Kane County’s population in 1950 was 2,229. In 1959, the Kane County Commissioners began planning a new 15-bed hospital. It was completed in 1962, now known as the “old” hospital. The current hospital, or “new” hospital, was built through the community’s efforts in 1997.

Rosalie and the Esplin family have been an important part of the history of the hospital and county. 

As part of program, Administrator Sherrie Pandya asked former Hospital Governing Board Chairman Ted Atherly to comment on Esplin’s amazing record. Atherly said while he was on the board they have received many cards from all over the county thanking the hospital for the tender, loving care and special treatment they had received.

Esplin’s service dates back to the old, old hospital, the old hospital and the current hospital. Esplin kept the board informed of any new regulations, the need for new equipment as technology improved, and with the little things that make a difference in achieving the goals of the hospital. 

Can you imagine the changes and improvements that have taken place in the health care business in the past 50 years?

Atherly personally thanked Esplin for her 50 years of service, exceptional leadership and for a job well done saying, “you are an awesome lady.”

Current Governing Board Chairperson Dottie Ratzlaff was introduced as the next speaker. Ratzlaff began by stating Esplin has been through 15 administrators, numerous doctors and many, many employees. Hospital board members have changed frequently. Through it all, Esplin has kept on kicking and has never given up. That old “Pioneer Spirit” with the highest of work standards and ethics has shown in her actions, behavior and consistency. A true blue country RN, from the Dr. Aiken era, plowing through the leniency of yesterday’s medical guidelines to the strict and rigid rules of today. 

Ratzlaff remarked on Esplin’s professional behavior, and wondered how she was able to remain so calm and collected. But that is just Rosalie. You don’t climb the ladder of life with your hands in your pockets. Esplin’s caring and healing hands have touched many lives.

Ratzlaff quoted Bette Midler. “People are not the best because they work hard. They work hard because they are the best.” “Rosalie is the best and we appreciate all you have done for the hospital and our community,” siad Ratzlaff.

Hospital Administrator Sherrie Pandya commented on Esplin’s schedule for the day. The social began at 4 p.m., and she had already assisted in two surgeries, as well as completing her other nursing duties.          

Doctor Ott compared Rosalie’s professionalism to that of baseball player Cal Ripken Jr., and the amount of games he played, working with different managers and his perseverance. In Ott’s analogy, Esplin is an “infielder,” being a front player in this organization for 50 years.

In 2001, Cal Ripkin wrote, “I’ve been asked this question a lot, ‘how do you want to be remembered?’” His response to that question has been, “To be remembered at all is pretty special.” 

Pandya presented Esplin with a plaque of honor engraved with: Presented to Rosalie Esplin RN and DON celebrating her 50th Anniversary at Kane County Hospital – October 28, 1959 to October 28, 2009. 

Pandya then placed a second plaque on the hospital lobby wall next to other honorees: Dr. George Aiken, Dr. Howard Roberts and Dr. Avnish Pandya.

Reference and interesting reading: The Doc Aiken Story, Memoirs of a Country Doctor and The History of Kane County, Utah Centennial County History Series.