Spotlight on Tonya Smith, Utah State Hospital Records Officer

Kendra Yates Records Management, Records Officer Spotlights

This month’s spotlight features Tonya Smith, the Medical Records Department Manager, Privacy Officer, and Records Officer for the Utah State Hospital, an inpatient psychiatric facility in Provo administered by the Department of Human Services. Tonya manages both paper and electronic patient medical records, as well as agency administrative documents. Tonya has been in this position for 17 of her 32 years working at the Utah State Hospital!


Tonya Smith

During her tenure, the State Hospital moved the records office to a new building on campus, at which time they changed from having individual sections store their records to maintaining a central storage area, which she says “provided for more consistent and secure storage, retention, and destruction of our agency records.” Tonya is currently working to create a complete inventory of the historical records on their “drawers and drawers of microfilm rolls.”

One of the most challenging things about Tonya’s job is that the Utah State Hospital is a HIPAA-defined covered entity, which means that she has to keep track of the many laws and rules that apply to different types of medical records. Fortunately, she has established a records management system that allows for easy retrieval and access of records for those that need them.

What Others Are Saying

State Hospital Superintendent, Dallas Earnshaw, says of Tonya: “I can’t even begin to summarize the impact of her contributions on the hospital and the quality of patient care. She has been instrumental not only in the development and oversight of a very well-run records department for the Utah State Hospital, but she has been involved in the development of our electronic medical record [system] for many years. Tonya Smith in the stacks.As an inpatient psychiatric facility, our EMR has been highlighted among colleagues nationally as one of the best designed systems in the country. She oversees our HIPAA policies and procedures, insures all staff are trained in critical federal and certification standards, and other legal processes. She has worked closely with the AG’s office in the oversight of HIPAA compliance, GRAMA and computer systems/network security protocols and implementation. She is an active member of many committees within the organization and is an active participant in the Administrative Services of the hospital. She is a great resource and many other organizations turn to her for consultation.”

Advice from a Pro

Tonya advises other records officers to “Participate in the training sessions provided by the Utah State Archives. Records management is tricky to figure out and I feel like I’m still learning. Review and update your agency record series.  Keep at it, you’ll figure it out!”