ALAMOSA — Dr. Kendal Knaus is retiring from a remarkable career at San Luis Valley Health, Alamosa, after serving in the medical field for more than 40 years.
Kendal was born in Brighton, and graduated from Colorado State University. He was initially interested in veterinary medicine because of his agricultural background but subsequently changed his major to pre-med. He attended medical school at Baylor University in Houston, Texas. He became interested in pathology and completed a pathology residency at the University of Colorado in Denver. Pathology was his choice of a specialty partially because it provides an opportunity to encounter so many of the most interesting medical cases. This has certainly kept him engaged and challenged for so many years. He was attracted to community hospitals and began his career in La Junta. This enabled him to serve three additional smaller hospitals.
After 16 years in the Arkansas Valley of Colorado, the opportunity to move to Alamosa presented itself in a phone call from the previous pathologist. In 1992, Dr. Knaus joined the San Luis Valley Regional Medical Center as the Medical Director of the Clinical Laboratory and as the Surgical Pathologist.
As medicine progressed, the Alamosa facility continued to provide high quality services with state of the art equipment. Working as a general pathologist allowed Dr. Knaus to utilize his training in all fields of pathology. “I like to practice a little of everything and use all of my skills,” commented Dr. Knaus in reflecting on his career. “Even though a lot has changed in health care over the years, I have enjoyed each day and each opportunity to answer questions or interpret a result and consult with a provider or patient.”
When asked about specific changes to the campus in Alamosa, Dr. Knaus replied, “I can remember two houses on the southeast corner of First Street and Blanca Avenue, where the emergency room is now. I lived in a small house on Second Street, west of Blanca Avenue, which is now a parking lot. The major addition in 1993 provided a new, spacious laboratory that we have much appreciated. Pathology at that time was located in the southeast corner of the hospital in a wing that no longer exists. The Pathology Department was subsequently moved to its current location on the second floor. With each construction project, the facility has been greatly improved, always with an eye on the future.”
Kendal joined the Board of Trustees in 2004 and will continue serving on the board after he retires. “Russ Johnson, former CEO, asked me to be a trustee and I was really honored,” Dr. Knaus explained. He has been impressed with the leadership at San Luis Valley Health and the expansion of new services, providers and staff. “There have been hurdles, but with vision and knowledge you can make tough decisions and move forward.” He cites working together with Conejos County Hospital as an example of taking care of our neighbors.
As for future plans, Dr. Knaus and his wife look forward to having time to visit their children and grandchildren in Albuquerque, La Junta, and Pueblo, to travel, and finish exploring the San Luis Valley. Dr. Knaus commented, “I have loved living and working here and would do it all over again.”