For Ron Trudel, moving from Billings, Mont., to Craig didn't represent as large a change as the distance might indicate.
His wife, Carmen, was originally from a mining town, and the weather isn't too different, he said. But, one thing does set Craig apart from his last home.
"My wife grew up in Colstrip, Mont., and Craig is the mirror image of that," he said. "Just a small community with good people."
Trudel, 41, who was raised in Philadelphia, recently became the cardiopulmonary manager at The Memorial Hospital. Trudel said he and his wife, who married April 2, wanted to find a small town because Billings was growing too quickly.
"My first visit here, everyone was very welcoming, very friendly," he said. "In a small town like Craig, you can build up a relationship with the people you're treating."
There were a number of factors that brought Trudel to the Western Slope.
"The way I came to Craig was kind of fluky," he said. "I don't usually answer recruitment calls, but I was told they were going to be developing programs, and I took advantage of the opportunity."
Some of the programs Trudel will help develop include studying sleep, cardiopulmonary programs and neuro-diagnostic tests.
"There are a lot of programs we want to bring here, and a number we want to improve upon," he said.
Trudel said his focus at TMH would be split between new programs and inpatient services.
"We want the people who have sick ones in the hospital to be able to stay here," he said. "We don't want people driving south to get care when we can accommodate them here at home.
"I would like to see us provide quality care in greater numbers in Craig. We want people to know they don't have to drive to Denver to get the care they need."
Trudel said he became involved with cardiopulmonary medicine after two tours in the Air Force.
"I had a good friend who entered the field after he got out" of the Air Force, Trudel said. "At that time, I was good with people, and I decided that it would be a good field to follow."
Trudel graduated from West Chester University of Pennsylvania, and before coming to Craig, he worked at St. Vincent Healthcare in Billings.
Overall, he has spent 17 years in cardiopulmonary medicine.
"There's a lot you can do in this field," he said. "You're never bored."
Since he started working at TMH on April 13, his coworkers have stood out the most for Trudel.
"The hospital itself has a very cohesive team," he said. "I've never seen the amount of teamwork I've seen here."
The new facility also helped to convince Trudel to move West.
"It wasn't just lip service," Trudel said. "They're invested in the new hospital - it's been a lot of time and planning, and a lot of help from the community.
"Outside and in, there has just been so much thought given to the flow and design of the new building. The flow is better than I've seen anywhere."
Taking care of people always has been something Trudel looked to do, he said.
"I'm very passionate about respiratory as a whole," he said. "I want to be an advocate for respiratory treatment.
"The patients here are appreciative, which is huge. That's what it's all about."
Ben Bulkeley can be reached at 875-1795 or firstname.lastname@example.org