Sunday, December 21, 2014
   
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Orthopedic surgeon finally on staff at local medical clinic

An interlude is a way to describe a process for Gothenburg Memorial Hospital’s new orthopedic surgeon.

Dr. Gene Pontecorvo was scheduled to join the Gothenburg Medical Clinic staff in February but it’s taken time for him to become licensed and credentialed in Nebraska and on board with various insurance companies, he said.

Pontecorvo started work June 2. Since then, he’s seen some patients and is helping with the design of the new hospital surgical suites.

As an orthopedic surgeon, Pontecorvo performs surgeries like shoulder, hip and knee replacement procedures and arthoscopy, fracture care and sports medicine. He refers speciality surgeries to sub-speciality surgeons.

The 64-year-old Vietnam War veteran found out about GMH through a recruiter who was recruiting family practitioners from a residency program at the University of Washington.

Pontecorvo had worked at Mt. Carmel Hospital in Colville, WA, for 20 years and decided to quit because of changes at the hospital.

“I was looking at jobs all over the place,” he said.

Once he discovered an opening at GMH, Pontecorvo made contact with an “energetic” Mick Brant (GMH CEO) and met what he described as an aggressive hospital board.

The rest is history.

Like he did at Mt. Carmel, where most of his orthopedic career has been spent, Pontecorvo will set up the orthopedic program at GMH.

What he likes best about orthopedics, he said, is the spectrum of people with whom he works.

“I also like the immediacy of the results,” Pontecorvo said. “I’m doing procedures that have an impact in a short period of time.”

An interesting development in the field of orthopedics, he said, is orthobiologics that includes enhancing the biology and biochemistry of bone and soft tissues to improve skeletal and tissue healing.

For example, he said protein applied to bone at the right time can help it heal.

To avoid orthopedic problems, Pontecorvo warns against smoking and becoming overweight and promotes moderate exercise and lifestyle.

Pontecorvo received his undergraduate degree from Loyola University, graduate degree from Tulane University School of Medicine and completed his residency in orthopedics at Letterman Army Medical Center in San Francisco, CA.

He was chief of orthopedics at Bassett Army Medical Center in Ft. Wainwright, AK, worked at Mena Medical Center in Mena, AR, and at Mt. Carmel Hospital in Colville from 1994-2001 and since 2002.

Pontecorvo was also an adjunct clinical professor of orthopedics at the University of Washington.

In his spare time, Pontecorvo likes to snowboard in the back country, weld (he’s made some of his own medical instruments), play guitar, mountain bike and do mini-triathlons.

He is married to Vicki Pontecorvo, who has a master’s degree in social work, and who previously worked at a dialysis center in Colville.

The couple has three grown children who live in Bellingham, and Seattle, WA; and Sandpoint, ID.

They also have two German short-hair dogs.

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