Local Health Care Now an Option in Wells
Hometown nurse practitioner Veronica Stevens opens new clinic in Wells
By Dianna Troyer
When she opened Aspen Quick Care in Wells in September, nurse practitioner Veronica Stevens hung an appreciation plaque and photo of her mentor, Dr. S. Joseph Smith, in the waiting room.
“I made sure to put it where patients would see it,” she says. “He was beloved in our community and was known for his diagnostic skills, honesty and being a country doctor who treated everything from snake bites to broken bones.”
In high school, Veronica unintentionally discovered her medical career path while working at Joseph’s clinic at 197 Baker Street. His wife, Jody, coached Veronica on the school golf team and was also her husband’s office manager and medical assistant.
“She hired me to help at the clinic,” Veronica says. “I was sure I wanted to run a golf course one day, but after a few months of working at the clinic, I fell in love with medicine, which led me to choose nursing instead. I learned to take vital signs, draw blood and shoot X-rays.”
More than a decade later, Veronica, 31, has returned to the clinic as its sole practitioner, offering health care to Wells residents for the first time since 2015. The urgent care and family practice clinic is equipped with a medication dispensary, digital X-ray equipment and a laboratory.
After Joseph retired in 2011, the Northeastern Nevada Regional Hospital in Elko opened the clinic for several years. It closed in 2015.
“People in Wells are like family to me,” says Veronica, who grew up in the town of 1,200. “Opening the clinic is my way of giving back to the community.”
With the new clinic open, people do not have to drive an hour each way to Elko or four hours roundtrip to Twin Falls for medical care or to fill their prescriptions.
Veronica, medical assistant Leandra Moschetti, medical assistant and X-ray technician Emma Whitaker, and receptionist Ady Prado will serve about 2,000 people in Wells and in Ruby, Starr and Clover valleys.
To keep the clinic sustainable, Veronica is counting on the type of community support that sustained the original practice in Wells for 29 years.
A University of Arkansas School of Medicine graduate, Joseph was looking for a small town to raise a family when a blizzard stranded him and Jody in Wells.
At the 4-Way Casino and Restaurant, they met Mike and Lois Nannini, who welcomed them to town. To convince Joseph and Jody to stay, Wells Civic Improvement Corporation members pro- vided a rent-free clinic and land to build a house near the golf course.
Re-opening the clinic has been a year-long labor of love and logistics to obtain medical equipment and various licenses.
The idea was Dave White’s, a physician’s assistant who had opened an Aspen Quick Care clinic in Spring Creek to serve a remote area. He called the Wells city manager to ask if anyone was interested and qualified to open a similar clinic there.
“It was a call out of the blue,” Veronica says.
She had graduated from Great Basin College in 2011 with a nursing degree and worked in the emergency room at the Elko hospital and as a school nurse in Wendover.
To be qualified to open a clinic, she enrolled in an online program through the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. After 18 months, she earned credentials as a board-certified nurse practitioner in 2017.
While re-opening the clinic, not all of Veronica’s duties have been related to medicine.
“My dad and I spent weeks stripping the old wax from the floor and applying a new coat,” she says. “My husband and I repainted the entire interior. My mom, aunt and uncle all helped me get the building cleaned up and ready to serve the community. I couldn’t have done it without them.”
Veronica recalls Joseph’s emphasis on preventive care and his honesty.
“He would tell patients who had routine coughs and colds that he could either give them antibiotics, and they’d be better in seven days, or they could go home and eat chicken soup and they’d be well in a week, too,” she says.
Five months after he retired, Dr. Smith, 71, died from pancreatic cancer.
“He left big shoes to fill,” Veronica says.
Like Dr. Smith, she says she is committed to staying in Wells. She and her husband, Loren, were high school sweethearts and have a son, Talen, a kindergartener. Loren is an Elko County Sheriff ’s deputy in Wells.
“We’re considering purchasing a lot for our own home that happens to be behind Dr. Smith’s house,” she says.
Veronica says she plans to provide cradle-to-grave care, emphasizing preventive medicine to curtail chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.
“I’m excited and optimistic for the clinic’s future,” she says.
The clinic is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Most insurance is accepted, and a membership plan is offered for individuals, families and businesses. Appointments can be made at (775) 773-8010 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Walk-ins are welcome.