New doc in town has seen it all

'Bizarre things happen': Veteran surgeon joins TMH staff with 24 years experience

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It's been a smooth first few weeks on the job for Dr. Stanley Pense, a veteran physician and the new general surgeon at The Memorial Hospital in Craig.

And that slower pace suits Pense just fine, he said.

"I wanted to find a smaller place to work and slow down," said Pense, a physician who came to Craig from the Good Samaritan Hospital in Yuma, Ariz. A native of Portland, Ore., the hospital hired Pense in October after a three-year, national search.

Pense, 51, began work in early January and has conducted mostly routine surgeries. He caught his first trauma Wednesday when victims from an early morning vehicle accident were brought to TMH for treatment.

"Emergencies do come in," Pense said. "Part of general surgery is trauma so things can change really fast."

Fortunately for patients in Craig and Moffat County, Pense has worked his fair share of emergencies. A practicing physician for the last 24 years, Pense said no matter the circumstance, his first priority is to remember the ABC of surgery -- airway, breathing and circulation.

"If you're not breathing, you're going to be dead in minutes," he said.

He said his most memorable surgeries have entailed drastic cases like relieving bleeding inside a patient's brain to treating a woman who'd been pinned between the bumpers of two cars.

"There's always something new," Pense said of the surgical world. "Bizarre things happen. ... Fortunately, it's not really common."

According to his resume, Pense has worked as a general and vascular surgeon in private practices in Arizona and Missouri and completed his residency in Phoenix, Ariz. He also completed medical mission work through a language school in Costa Rica and worked as an associate professor of surgery at a regional teaching hospital in Trujillo, Peru.

Hospital officials said Pense's combination of a thorough clinical background, years of experience and personality justified his place at the top of the surgeon candidate's list.

Hospital spokeswoman Pamala Thompson described Pense as an "excellent doctor and an incredible surgeon."

Pense and wife, Sharon, have three children.

The new doctor, an avid hunter, said he has been impressed with everything in the area, ranging from his colleagues at TMH to local wildlife to the friendly community.

"It's been great and we love it," he said. "There are outstanding nurses here, and Dr. (David) James has been great to work with. ... People in the community have been extremely friendly."

Joshua Roberts can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 210, or jroberts@craigdailypress.com.

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