Ophthalmology returns to Estes Park Health

On September 19, Estes Park Health brought ophthalmology services back to the hospital with the hiring of Dr. Sarah Dech.

Dech and her husband, Patrick, enjoying the Colorado mountains. (Dr. Sarah Dech/Courtesy photo)

At nine months pregnant, Dech is eager to give birth to her and her husband, Patrick’s, first child, but she is also excited to start her career and ophthalmology practice at Estes Park Health.

When asked about why she chose ophthalmology for her specialty, she gave a big grin as she recalled her early years in medical school.

“In my first year of medical school, Dr. [Paul] Weber gave the best eye lectures,” said Dech. “He cared about his patients and was so kind.”

Dech elaborated that Weber was really the biggest reason why she chose to be an eye doctor but there were other milestones in her decision.

An avid hiker, Dech was excited about her summit of 14,065-foot Mt. Bierstadt. (Dr. Sarah Dech/Courtesy photo)

“In my second year, I saw a lecture by Dr. [Geoffrey] Tabin from the University of Utah,” said Dech. “He would go on these adventure trips in places like the Himalayas. He loved outdoor adventure and would go on epic trips but also helped people in these remote regions.”

Dech’s description of Tabin didn’t really communicate the sense of impact this physician has had in the visual sciences and his sense of adventure. A Harvard Medical School graduate, Tabin is the co-founder of the Himalayan Cataract Project, has been named the “unsung hero” by the Dalai Lama for work to eradicate unnecessary world blindness and sustain ophthalmic health care in the developing world, and is the fourth person to climb the seven summits, the highest point on each continent.

Dech spoke with awe about how Tabin found a way to combine a love for adventure, the outdoors, travel, and ophthalmic health care.

By her third year, Dech was hooked on ophthalmology and rotated into the specialty.

“I love giving people quality of life, not just quantity of life,” said Dech. “That’s why I chose this specialty. People have such a great quality of life after cataract surgery.”

In addition to cataract surgery, Dech also performs surgeries for lid lesions, cysts and styes, as well as glaucoma laser surgery and secondary cataract laser surgery.

“Estes Park is a perfect place to be,” said Dech. “There is such a need for ophthalmology up here because of the age group in town.”

Dech, a native of Grosse Pointe, Mich., completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Michigan, and still passionately roots for the Michigan Wolverines during college football season. She obtained her medical degree at Ohio State University College of Medicine and then finished her residency at Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston.

After her residency, Dech worked at Front Range Eye Physicians in Longmont before accepting the position at Estes Park Health that was vacated when Dr. Michael Prochoda retired in 2021.

“I came to Estes Park because I wanted to start my own clinic,” said Dech. “Everyone here was very kind and it is such a beautiful place to be. I plan to establish a strong practice where I can really get to know my patients.”

Dech’s goals include becoming an active member in the Estes Park community, teach people how to understand their diseases and diagnoses, and help patients with preventative care to avoid permanent eye damage, such as those with diabetes.

In addition to dedicating time for work and family, she likes to hike.

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About Pep Dekekr

Pep loves Estes Park, he lives here with his family and hopes to bring people to Estes Park and Estes Park to the people. Along with his wife Paige, they own EstesPark.com.

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