After living and practicing medicine for many years in Fortuna, California, Jack Dr. Bellah, M.D., now spends most of his time on the Mendocino Coast performing orthopedic surgeries, including the minimally invasive anterior approach hip replacement. (See what patient Karen Reynolds says about the new surgery).
Dr. Bellah and wife, Pam, fell in love with the Mendocino Coast more than 20 years ago when they attended their first WineSong!, the Hospital Foundation’s annual fundraiser, and have returned every year since.
As the newest member of the hospital medical staff, the goal of the Stanford University Medical Center-trained orthopedic surgeon is to bring his 22 years experience to Coast Hospital so fewer locals have to drive over the hill to Santa Rosa and the Bay Area for care.
Since Dr. Bellah accepts all types of insurance, his local practice is already on a rapid growth path. He arrives on Monday mornings, sees outpatients three days a week, performs surgeries two days and then sees all his post-operation patients before leaving the next Monday for Fortuna. Three weeks later, he returns.
In a typical year, Dr. Bellah performs about 75 joint replacement surgeries and 250 total procedures. During one recent day at Coast Hospital, he performed three major cases: full and partial knee replacements and a hip replacement. “It was the first time the hospital had three such major cases done in day week,” CEO Ray Hino noted.
“Coast Hospital is a great place to be,” said Dr. Bellah, during a short break between surgeries. “The people here are friendly, supportive and competent. It’s been a wonderful environment for me and my patients.”
As a board-certified general orthopedic surgeon, he is trained and qualified to perform any type of orthopedic surgery, but focuses primarily on arthroscopic procedures on shoulders and knees and full and partial knee and hip replacements. He also performs hand surgery and repairs fractures.
“There are a diminishing number of orthopaedic residents interested in becoming generalists,” Dr. Bellah explained. “Now days, orthopaedists want to specialize, which means that to cover the same types of surgeries a generalist handles you’ll need to employ three or four specialists in a number of fields.”
When he is not seeing patients, performing surgeries or studying the latest medical journals, Dr. Bellah, 53, says he bikes, runs and reads novels (a couple of pages a night before dropping off to sleep). On vacations, you are likely to find the Bellahs in Nepal. But the trips are more for philanthropy than fun.
Wife Pam, a retired nurse, created and operates a foundation she established to fund a school in Nepal for young adults. She used private donations to build the school and continues to support it without government grants. She not only loves the people of Nepal, she also loves the country, completing a 110-day walk from west to east to celebrate her 40th birthday. The Bellahs have made more than 20 treks to Nepal the past two decades.
Asked if he has any interest in scaling Mt. Everest, Dr. Bellah smiled and said, “My medical practice is challenging and rewarding enough.”