Dr. Dave Wilkinson has been an emergency room doctor in Steamboat Springs for 30 years.

John F. Russell/file

Dr. Dave Wilkinson has been an emergency room doctor in Steamboat Springs for 30 years.

Doc Willett awards: Dr. Dave Wilkinson has touched many lives as ER doctor in Steamboat Springs

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Doc Willett Health Care Heritage Awards

  • Friday, August 23, 2013, 6:30 p.m.
  • Strings Music Pavilion, 900 Strings Road, Steamboat Springs
  • All ages / $50

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Doc Willett Award winners

— Former Olympic freestyle skier Nelson Carmichael has sought emergency medical attention many times in his life.

There was the time he hurt his neck on a trampoline several years ago.

He then nearly broke his nose skiing, and more recently, he separated his shoulder and hurt his tibia in separate skiing incidents.

Carmichael said Thursday that through all of these injuries, he's been lucky to have David Wilkinson see him in his local emergency room in Steamboat Springs.

“He's always a great guy and friend,” Carmichael said. “He's always so professional and calm and kind. His personality lends itself well to the ER.”

Better known as Dr. Dave, Wilkinson has been an emergency room doctor in Steamboat now for 30 years.

He currently directs the emergency department at Yampa Valley Medical Center.

On Friday night, Wilkinson will be presented with the Health Care Professional of the Year Award from the Healthcare Foundation for the Yampa Valley.

Like the many athletes to which he often provides medical attention, Wilkinson himself is an adventurer.

He loves to snowmobile, ski, ride motorcycles and kiteboard.

Carmichael said that helps the doctor easily relate to his patients.

“He's such a big and strong guy, but he is so knowledgeable, so calm and so kind,” Carmichael said. “That's what makes him so unique, especially in that ER world. He's kind of a gentle giant.”

Wilkinson said he's honored to earn the award, but he views himself as just one of many representatives of a glowing legacy of health care in the Yampa Valley.

“The legacy is we do good work,” Wilkinson said as he recounted Steamboat's medical history that started with Doc Willett making house calls in a horse-drawn buggy.

A rural, brick hospital then was built in downtown Steamboat before health care evolved greatly with the construction of Yampa Valley Medical Center and the transition to the city hosting an award-winning regional medical center.

“The legacy is health care, not the individual,” Wilkinson said.

Jace Romick, another longtime friend of Wilkinson's, said Thursday that he could think of no other person more deserving of the award than Dr. Dave.

“It's absolutely incredible the amount of people he has touched in this community,” Romick said. “If you've lived in Steamboat for any amount of time and you don't know who Dr. Dave is, you must be living in a hole. Or you've never been hurt, or you've never been to the hospital.”

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com

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