Nonprofit founder steps down as clinical director of the People’s Health Clinic
March 4, 2019
One trip to Guatemala more than 25 years ago completely altered the course of John Hanrahan's life.
He returned from Guatemala, where he helped treat patients during a humanitarian mission, and he was eager to make a big change in the world. He worked toward that goal by helping start two nonprofits in Park City. Now, as Hanrahan accepts a new responsibility with Rotary International, his involvement with the nonprofits is changing. He is stepping down from his position at the People's Health Clinic and continuing in a minor role with the Hope Alliance.
Hanrahan recently left his position as clinical director at the People's Health Clinic, which provides medical care to uninsured individuals in Summit and Wasatch counties. He plans to continue to volunteer as a physician when he can, and he will also remain on the clinic's board. He leaves his position as he prepares to be named the district governor of Utah Rotary in the summer.
Beth Armstrong, executive director of the clinic, said she, the staff and Hanrahan's patients will all miss him, but she expects Hanrahan will still be around the clinic. The only difference is now he will be volunteering his hours, she said.
He is not someone who does anything a little bit,”Beth ArmstrongPeople’s Health Clinic
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"He is not someone who does anything a little bit," she said.
She said the fact that Utah Rotary selected him for the position is a testament to his character.
"He is remarkably kind and very consistent," she said. "He has a great attitude, and he has been a wonderful partner."
Sean McNamara, a family physician in Salt Lake City, became the new clinical director on Thursday. Taking a backseat role in the two nonprofits will be challenging for Hanrahan, but he said he is proud of the two organizations he helped start and the legacy he feels he has left behind.
Hanrahan moved to Park City in 1992, after completing his education and residency to become a doctor in Maryland and North Carolina.
He accepted a position at a clinic located on Bonanza Drive. Then, in the late 1990s, Reverend Joe Mitchell invited Hanrahan on the medical humanitarian trip to Guatemala.
One of his starkest memories from the trip was the death of a 2-year-old girl who was malnourished and had pneumonia. Hanrahan and the other doctors tried to save her, but she died a couple days later.
"I had this overwhelming sense of injustice," he said.
So when Hanrahan and Mitchell returned, they decided to start a nonprofit that hosts medical trips to underserved countries around the world. They called it the Hope Alliance.
Then, another opportunity to start a nonprofit emerged. Bob Bussen, a priest who was very active in the Park City community, approached Hanrahan to discuss starting a clinic to serve uninsured residents of Summit County. Pamela Atkinson, who worked with Intermountain Healthcare, helped Bussen and Hanrahan get the clinic started, and Hanrahan said several religious organizations in Park City became involved. The nonprofit emerged in December of 1999, bought a mobile clinic in January and started seeing patients in the spring of 2000.
Hanrahan said the People's Health Clinic was located in a van for three years, then it bounced between permanent locations for another five years. In 2008, the clinic worked out a deal with Intermountain Healthcare and Summit County so the nonprofit could have a physical location. It is now located at 650 Round Valley Drive.
Hanrahan worked as executive director of the Hope Alliance while volunteering to start the People's Health Clinic. He continued to volunteer at the clinic until he accepted a staff position as a physician in 2011.
In 2016, Hanrahan moved off the board of the Hope Alliance and became a member of the advisory board. He continues in that capacity today.
Both nonprofits are successful today. The clinic went from serving patients two nights a week to being open five days a week. It also expanded to a location in Heber. The Hope Alliance hosts large medical trips every year.
Hanrahan said it is both amazing and upsetting to see how far the clinic has come since its early years. It is great to see the nonprofit thrive, but it is sad to know that more people than ever cannot get medical care from a regular clinic because they are not insured, Hanrahan said.
But when he remembers the lives the clinic helped save thanks to volunteers and donated medical equipment, he cannot help but smile.
He said he got into medicine when he was in his youth because he "wanted to change the world." As he takes a step back and looks at the two thriving nonprofits that have helped thousands of people, he feels like he has made a difference.
"I wouldn't do anything differently," he said.
He is excited for his new role, where he will oversee the 45 Rotary clubs in Utah and be actively involved in international Rotary clubs. He has been involved with the organization for 20 years.
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