ST. GEORGE — A staple of Springdale’s history, The Zion Canyon Medical Clinic is transitioning after nearly 40 years from a small building with hometown owners to new owners with plans for a larger venue. The clinic is temporarily closed while the transition takes place. A Family Healthcare official told St. George News the clinic will reopen Dec. 7.

The Zion Medical Clinic has new owners and will open back up in December of this year, Springdale, Utah, unspecified date | Photo courtesy of Zion Medical Clinic, St. George News

The original building located next to the town hall was established by Intermountain Health in 1984. Mayor Barbara Bruno told St. George News the modular structure was transferred to the Springdale Lions Club in 2009 by Intermountain Health when they left town. 

“Eventually, the Lions Club donated the building to Mike McMahon and his wife, Helen, a nurse practitioner, and it was with the understanding that they would continue to run this clinic in Springdale,” Bruno said. “It was a private business owned by Mike and Helen. They decided to retire on Oct. 13.”

When Family Healthcare takes over the reins of the clinic, it will be open one day a week during the winter. Lori Wright, CEO of Family Healthcare, told St. George News their priority will be assessing the needs in the community. The assessment includes how many days a week it will be open in the future and what type of services the residents need. She said the clinic will likely continue as the town’s only primary care facility.

“We want to take care of communities that have a need and that’s a small community that is somewhat isolated,” Wright said. “So being able to go out and take care of that community is exciting to us and matches our mission.”

She noted that Family Healthcare serves everyone in communities, including insured, uninsured and all nationalities. 

“Then you have the challenge of being … the gateway to Zion National Park,” Wright said. “So there will be different kinds of challenges coming as the park is busier during the spring, summer and fall.”

Family Heathcare visit with Springdale town officials (L to R) Helen McMahan, Mike McMahan, Lori Wright Family Healthcare CEO, Springdale, Utah, March 2022 | Photo courtesy of Family Healthcare, St. George News

Wright added that during the peak tourist season, while they will take care of the community, there will be some urgent situations that come out of the park. For example, someone might have heat exhaustion, a break or a sprain, or other injuries that have an increased likelihood for those recreating in the park.

“That will be a different kind of modality for us. We don’t do a lot of those types of things since we don’t have a national park right outside of St. George,” Wright said. “So it’s a challenge, but we’re excited to do it. And we think we’ll be fine.”

Wright noted one of her “favorite parts” of the project will be working collaboratively with the town to construct a building in the future. 

“As we move into that new building in a couple of years, we’ll also be providing pharmacy services, which that community desperately needs,” Wright said. 

During the winter, there will be two staff people, support staff, and a provider at the clinic from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wright said there will probably be four people on the team in the high season. She said the size of the current building limits how many patients can be served. 

“As we get into a bigger facility, that might change,” Wright said. “We’re ready to support the need that is demonstrated out there and are ready to adjust and grow.”

Input from the residents, town and park officials will help them throughout the year on what kind of operation the clinic will be in the future.

“I understand that sometimes it goes from no one being there to being lots of people there at the clinic,” Wright said. 

Bruno said town staff had the building appraised and Springdale is purchasing the clinic building for $105,000. The town will then lease the building to Family Healthcare. 

The Zion Canyon Medical Clinic building is on town hall property. Bruno said the town had let the McMahons keep the building there at no cost. Bruno said the town was paying for their water and sewer bills as well. 

“So they (are) being subsidized to some extent, although it wasn’t private business and not a town clinic,” Bruno said. “Mike didn’t want to move the building. He didn’t feel like it could easily be moved. So we ended up getting an appraisal for the building.”

The building was extensively damaged in the floods of 2021, forcing it to close temporarily.

Bruno thanked the McMahons for their longtime community service.

“Mike and Helen McMahon have been providing decades of great care to many residents of Springdale, and they are also members of our community,” Bruno said. “They live here and we’re glad that they’re sticking around. We’re glad that they have a chance to retire.”

Bruno, who previously served on the town’s Planning Commission, said he has been working on trying to secure a location for a medical clinic that’s more permanent even before she was mayor. 

“Family Healthcare is willing to work out of this building so we don’t lose our health care in the interim,” Bruno said. “Ultimately, we would like to build a bigger building that gives them space to have trauma care, family care, behavioral health and a pharmacy. That’s something that we don’t have in the town of Springdale.”

Family Healthcare will be able to accept all insurance plans. Bruno said the organization will charge patients according to their ability to pay. The clinic will provide general care and will refer people out to specialists either in Hurricane or in St. George as the previous owners did.

“Family Healthcare is a federally chartered community health clinic and so they get some federal grants,” Bruno said. “They are licensed by the federal government and so they will be able to provide pretty much any kind of care.”

Bruno added that there will continue to be an ambulance available at the Springdale Fire Station 24/7 that can be accessed by calling 911.

On one of the town’s Facebook community pages, the McMahans were thanked as longtime caregivers, neighbors and friends. 

“We thank them for their dedicated service and exceptional care of us & many visitors throughout their careers. It was an honor for me and a great experience to be part of their team. Please join me in wishing them a bright new chapter in their lives as retirees and Grandparents,” the post reads.

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