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New NVH Surgical Director Joins Cutting-Edge Team

Recently, North Valley Hospital welcomed a new surgical services director, Rob Romanelly, who moved to Whitefish from Fort Collins, Colorado. Romanelly earned his nursing degree at Indiana State University before working in management in various surgery departments in Indiana and later Florida. When he and his wife decided to move west, they selected Colorado and relocated to Fort Collins where he earned his Bachelor of Science in Nursing at Western Governors University.

About making the move to Whitefish, Romanelly says, “First of all, I saw that NVH has been a cutting-edge hospital in surgery — it’s amazing that North Valley Hospital is a critical access hospital that was the first in the state to have a DaVinci Robot. With that kind of investment in a high quality surgery program, I was very interested in this hospital.”

Romanelly explains the draw to Whitefish as “a place where people want to live, so they make it work — they invest in their jobs, and they create a positive employee culture.” He appreciates the family environment in Whitefish and that North Valley Hospital, a Planetree hospital, is “more patient and employee centered than anywhere else I’ve worked.”

Surgical Services Team

In the last year, Romanelly explains that the surgical services team has really hit a stride, investing in continued education and training, and establishing streamlined surgery logistics such as set up and room turnover. “Our team is solid and able to provide even better care, as we are comfortable working together and we are able to reduce surgery times and improve patient experience.”

Recently, two NVH surgical professionals, Jonni Pekus and Tyler Butts, Robotics Clinical Coordinator and Robotics Coordinator respectfully, led the effort to increase clinical efficiency in robotic surgeries at North Valley Hospital. Pekus and Butts worked with surgeons and the robotics staff team to streamline the setup of procedures and room turnover, which improves the patient experience and stewardship of hospital resources. Pekus and Butts now travel throughout Montana sharing their expertise and research with other surgical teams in hospitals around the state.

Surgical Services

Surgical Services at North Valley Hospital is one of the hospital facility’s flagship services, as a leader in advanced robotic surgery in Montana. In calendar year 2018, the hospital performed 2,498 surgical procedures, which included 906 orthopedic procedures. In addition to orthopedic procedures such as joint replacement, knee, hip, hand and shoulder surgeries, ACL reconstruction, and fracture care, the surgical services unit also performs procedures in the specialties of general surgery, ENT, urology, gynecology, dental, and plastics.

The affiliation with KRH has also proved beneficial, as Romanelly explains, “Working with Kalispell to share education opportunities, bring our managers together to share ideas and best practices is especially helpful when you’re in a healthcare system together and you have another OR team to partner with and learn from.”

Romanelly says, “At North Valley Hospital, we can meet the needs of our community, and look at areas of growth in the program. This is a matter of having good surgeons and staff and advanced technology — and that’s something that I appreciate about NVH — the support is there so that we can take the steps we need to take to build an advanced program.”

Romanelly also notes that patients appreciate the atmosphere of North Valley Hospital, and often elect to have surgery at the hospital for the calm environment. He says, “The facility itself — the Planetree culture, which makes you feel like you’re at home, helps patients to feel comfortable, which really assists in the healing process.”

By Allison Linville
This story is duplicated here as originally printed in the March 6, 2019 publication of the Whitefish Pilot. 

Pictured: Dr. Ryan Gunlikson and members of the NVH surgical team.