Front left: Rob Leonard, PA-C, with members of the Terry Peak Ski Patrol (Left to right: Jacques Dupret, Jenny Ringling, Andrew Pisciotta, Katie Christy, Tristan Christoffer.)
Rob Leonard, PA-C, doesn’t mind the cold, especially when he can ski. During the winter when he’s not at his regular post in the Emergency Department (ED) at Lead-Deadwood Hospital, Rob prefers to be on the slopes of Terry Peak with the ski patrol team.
“You have to enjoy the cold. It’s 5 degrees below zero up here today, but we’re dressed for it.”
Rob, originally from Rapid City, has been a part-time member of the patrol team for 11 years. When people ask why he does this in his spare time, he might say “I get paid to ski!” But don’t let that fool you.
“I would do this even on just a volunteer basis. I do it for the community. It’s a passion.”
It’s such a passion that over the years he has combined his medical background with his connections to the hospital and Terry Peak to enhance the relationship between the organizations, therefore providing better patient care.
Years ago when Rob started on the ski patrol team, he noticed there was a lack of communication between Terry Peak and the ED in Lead-Deadwood. He knew it would benefit both entities to improve collaboration, so he recruited a couple of hospital paramedics to join him on the patrol team. He later brought other patrollers on part time at the hospital.
Since then, Rob has worked with others at Terry Peak to improve communication between the patrol and the hospital and advance the team’s training and skills. Patrollers already meet state or national emergency medical requirements, and Rob has implemented many of the protocols he follows at the hospital, including the physical exam. When the patrol can differentiate between a shoulder dislocation, separation or collarbone fracture, for example, it can save the patient the expense and time of an ER visit. It can also help by not unnecessarily overwhelming the ED.
“The biggest thing is the feedback. After the patrol treats a patient at Terry Peak, I can provide feedback from the hospital so they know if they were correct. It’s providing education to the patrollers.”
Jacques Dupret, Assistant Director of Ski Patrol at Terry Peak, agreed that more communication is a win-win.
“Fifteen years ago we didn’t have much of a connection with the hospital,” Jacques said. “Now we know all of the providers and nurses and have feedback on what we’re doing here.”
He added that it’s been key having Rob on the team. Rob not only provides a higher level of care as a PA-C, he also connects the patrollers with trainings and other growth opportunities. For example, patrollers recently took advantage of a splinting class at Spearfish Hospital.
In the near future Rob will help the patrol team pursue advanced life support skills and will develop more education for guests.
“We have a really good time up here,” Rob said. “We learn from one another. And I get to help patients from beginning to end. That’s why I do it.”