Telluride Inside… and Out is proud to feature the Telluride Medical Center’s MEDICAL MOMENT, a weekly column that answers common medical questions in pop culture. Have a question for the doctors? Click here to send. However, this week is an exception to the rule. This week, we say goodbye to Dr. Peter Hackett, a longtime, highly respected and beloved member of the team, who just announced his retirement.

Dr. Peter Hackett, Executive Director of the Institute For Altitude Medicine

Dr. Peter Hackett, Executive Director of the Institute For Altitude Medicine

Dr. Peter Hackett, a staple of the Emergency Care team at the Telluride Medical Center, has announced his retirement effective January 1, 2013.

Though Dr. Hackett will continue as the Director of the Institute for Altitude Medicine at the Medical Center, his resignation caps a remarkable and unusual medical career that includes 11 years serving the Telluride community.

After graduating from the University of Illinois College of Medicine in Chicago, and training at San Francisco General Hospital, his first job was as a helicopter rescue doctor in Yosemite National Park. He fought fires and rescued climbers and others, for $4.47 per hour – he says it was the best job he ever had. That led him to Nepal, where a three-month stint for a trekking company turned into a love affair with Nepal and a six-year adventure practicing wilderness medicine, researching high altitude illnesses, and climbing mountains, which culminated in an ascent of Mt. Everest in 1981. Dr Hackett collected physiological data all the way to the summit, climbing alone the last 3,000 feet. He nearly died on the descent, when he fell on the Hillary Step. Dr. Hackett was instrumental in starting the Himalayan Rescue Association, which now has two clinics in Nepal, and worked and lived at 14,000 ft near Everest for many seasons.

“I loved being an ER doc in Telluride – what a great community. I so enjoyed the patients, both tourists and locals, and the staff at the med center. I’ll miss the interactions, but will stay connected with Telluride through my altitude work.”

During his tenure in Telluride Dr. Hackett was instrumental in developing emergency services at the Med Center.

“Dr. Hackett’s search for excellence has been unparalleled and has shaped our ER services as we know it today,” said Gordon Reichard, executive director of the Telluride Medical Center.”His monthly quality review sessions of our ER services are legendary around here because of the thoroughness in which he approached that responsibility.”

Dr. Hackett, 65, joined the Telluride Medical Center in 2001, and served for nine years as the Director of Emergency Services, as well as the Medical Director for the Telluride Fire District. He still serves as Medical Advisor for Telluride Ski Patrol and San Miguel Search & Rescue, and as Director of the Institute for Altitude Medicine. Dr Hackett has chaired various distinguished organizations including the International Society for Mountain Medicine and the International Hypoxia Symposia. He is recognized as a world authority on Mountain Medicine, and lectures extensively nationally and internationally.
“Patients couldn’t believe their good fortune when they recognized the famous Dr. Hackett as their attending physician. He is a fixture at the Med Center and we will miss his presence,” said Reichard.

Dr. Hackett lives in Ridgway, and will be yak-ranching with his fiancé, Dr. Ruth Higdon. Tashi, his son, is a junior at Ridgway High School and has aims to follow in his dad’s footsteps.

Dr. Hackett’s full time position as an Emergency Medicine physician will be filled by Dr. Simon Kotlyar in July.

Editor’s note: The Telluride Medical Center is the only 24-hour emergency facility within 65 miles. You can choose your own medical provider, visit with a specialist or take advantage of their Mountain Skin Care services. Telluride is a mountain town in a challenging, remote environment; a thriving medical center is vital to our community’s health. For more Medical Moments on TIO, Click Here.


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