While practicing in Albuquerque, N.M., Dr. Richard Lovato was once told by an attendant that, ‘You’ve made it once other doctors start requesting your services for themselves and their families.’ If that’s the case, Lovato hit the pinnacle in his field after about 15 years as a surgeon. While the personal requests from other doctors mounted, so did public accolades including recognition by Albuquerque Magazine as surgeon of the year.
Now relocated to Denver, Lovato recently joined the team of physicians at St. Anthony’s Hospital. When considering the move, Lovato was encouraged by the faith-based practice at St. Anthony’s. “My family centers ourselves around faith and our church.” says Lovato, “That’s a big reason why we chose St. Anthony’s.”
Coming to Colorado is a bit of a homecoming for Lovato, having been born and raised in Costilla in the San Luis Valley. He takes pride in his Costilla roots but also notes that he is the only doctor he knows from the region. His road back to Colorado wasn’t easy and faith and family served as Lovato’s platform for success.
At the age of nine, Lovato’s parents were killed in a motorcycle accident and he was left to make life-altering decisions for himself and his little brother - decisions that would determine where they would live and where they would go to school. With family in California, Denver, Pueblo and New Mexico, Lovato had many options – and tough decisions for a young child. He no longer had his loving parents with him, he lost the innocence of childhood, but he credits the demands of being the oldest sibling, the influence of extended family and the Catholic faith for helping him make responsible decisions.
Mature enough to determine that his grandparents had already had their turn raising children, Lovato and his brother went to live with his Uncle Dee. With his extended family’s encouragement, Lovato graduated from Menaul School – a Presbyterian founded school originally designed to prepare Spanish-speaking boys from New Mexico for college. The school certainly fulfilled its mission with Lovato who graduated as valedictorian of his class and earned a scholarship to the University of New Mexico.
Reluctant to become a surgeon after learning of the long hours and knowing he wanted to have a family someday, Lovato nevertheless followed his passion into the field. While a resident at the University of Kentucky, he married and had a daughter. Not surprisingly, his daughter, Erika, followed Lovato’s wife, (a nurse), and Lovato into the health profession.
Not surprisingly, Lovato still keeps faith and family as a central part of his life. He speaks of Erika with unbridled pride and talks about her options going back to medical school to become a doctor or continuing as a nurse like her mother. He also talks lovingly about the younger brother Randy that he helped to raise, the brother who lived with him while he was going to college and the same brother who is now a successful architect in New Mexico.
With friends who are already contemplating retirement, Lovato considers himself in the prime of his career while rebuilding his client base in Denver. His knowledge of the Latino community and his ability to speak Spanish gives him a decided advantage. “Our practice steers monolingual Spanish speakers my way and I love it when I see the happy reaction from my patients when they realize I can speak Spanish,” notes Lovato. As for requests from other doctors for services for themselves and their families, “It’s just a matter of time and I will be honored to serve,” says Lovato.