For some of us, the story is very similar, as it all started with a drive through Paradise Valley. Rhonda Peterson had just left Yellowstone National Park, headed toward I-90, on a relocation road trip from Kalispell to her new home in Lander, Wyoming. As she drove parallel to the Yellowstone River, past beautiful cattle ranches and towering mountains, Peterson knew that one day she would call this home.
Nine years later, Peterson made that dream into reality and purchased a home in Livingston. Later, Peterson was hired at the Livingston HealthCare Sleep Center, working with Dr. Pascual as a Respiratory Therapist. She became a donor to the New Hospital Campaign by joining the Employee Hour Club during the “family phase” of the campaign in 2014.
“It was great that as employees we were offered the opportunity to participate,” said Peterson, “because we are not wealthy like a lot of the other donors who contributed. The way we were allowed to donate through payroll deductions meant that we could still be a part of the donor team and really feel like we contributed.”
At the time, Peterson could not conceptualize what the building would look like or how it would function, yet “I knew from working at the old facility that something needed to be done. The old hospital was outdated and too small,” she said.
During the transition to the new medical center and a new sleep center format, work for Peterson became scarce. She joined a medical travel company and signed a two-year contract to be placed in Sioux City, Iowa. She kept her home in Livingston, renting it out to her daughter, with the intention that she would return. A year into her contract, a full time Respiratory Therapist position opened up at Livingston HealthCare and she jumped at the chance. Peterson bought herself out of her Sioux City contract so that she could return to Livingston HealthCare and to the Park County community she loved.
Since her return to Park County, Peterson is elated with the new facility, saying “It is a great addition to the community, everyone that has worked on it can be very proud. Since I have been back I have only heard positive things,” she said. “It’s like part art museum, part ski lodge!”
Peterson believes the project was a vital accomplishment and has since re-committed to her “Hour Club” employee campaign pledge.
“In order for this community to survive,” Peterson said, “we needed an upgrade so that we wouldn’t lose our community to Bozeman or Billings, so our patients wouldn’t have to travel for quality care.”