Clark Fork Valley Hospital in Plains has announced that the facility will add a new orthopedic surgeon in January 2019.
Dr. Robert E. Blease, M.D., was at the hospital early last week. He is getting to know CFVH personnel, and getting familiar with the services offered there. According to Tonya Revier, Marketing and Community Relations coordinator at CFVH, the arrival of Blease will help meet the growing demand for orthopedic services in the area.
Blease will be providing a comprehensive spectrum of services including trauma, joint replacement, sports medicine/arthroscopy, and basic hand of pediatric services.
“I am eager to get to Montana and get to work and bring full-time orthopedic care back to Sanders County,” Blease said.
After leaving the Army in 2014, Blease became employed full time at Holmes Regional Medical Center, just south of Cape Canaveral, Fla. He will transition from that hospital to CFVH.
“I had been doing some part-time work at the facility, and this was an easy transition into a very busy orthopedic trauma practice,” Blease said. “The nature of the location and facility allowed me to expand my skills into joint replacement, revision joint replacement, and complex sports medicine cases.”
WHAT BRINGS Blease to Sanders County and CFVH?
“I was born and raised in Colorado and feel at home in the intermountain west. The Army took me elsewhere and almost everywhere over a career that spanned nearly 30 years,” Blease said. “I retired from the Army in 2014 and have enjoyed a robust and rewarding practice in coastal Florida but it is not home and many of the outdoor activities that I enjoy are not easily accessible there.”
Blease indicated he was looking for a new practice opportunity — seeking a smaller facility in the west where he could provide more personalized care to his patients in an environment that encouraged him to do so.”
“I found CVFH and Plains to be friendly, beautiful and without the overpopulation that has plagued my home state of Colorado. Additionally, I am looking forward to working in an environment where the focus is on quality of care, and not corporate profit,” Blease said.
His career in healthcare began almost accidentally. After my first four years in the Army, having served as a Czech linguist, I left active duty to pursue his undergraduate degree. He also joined the Colorado National Guard at the same time. His specialty was not available there, and he joined the 5th Battalion, 19thSpecial Forces Group.
“I was given a choice of new specialties and elected to train as a medic – I felt that as long as I had a choice, I might as well select a specialty that allowed me to help others,” Blease said.
After graduating from the Special Forces Medic/Special Forces qualification course two years later, he said he had embraced his new field, and this changed the course and focus of his education as he had now elected to pursue medicine as a career.
BEING IN the medical field is in the Blease family. His father was a long-time family practice physician in Colorado, and his mother worked for many years as a medical transcriptionist and medical records supervisor.
“My original intent, upon entering medical school, had been to become an emergency medicine physician. However, I quickly learned, as opposed to what is commonly depicted in TV shows, that you rarely operate or deliver babies in the ER of most hospitals,” Blease said, and eventually decided that internal medicine did not fit his mindset.
“Six weeks of OB (obstetrics) was more satisfying and enough to convince me that procedural medicine was the place for me,” he said. “I stumbled into orthopedics as almost an afterthought. A two-week rotation at the end of my third year exposed me to a group of people that work and play hard and get to do some fun things at work. I was sold.”
His practice in Florida has allowed Blease to greatly expand his joint replacement skills as well. He also worked on routine sports medicine and complex trauma-related sports medicine cases there.
He is also excited to be back in a position where he will be able to see his patients through the whole process of their recovery and return to function and happiness.
BLEASE HAS one daughter, 31-year-old Lauren. She recently graduated from her Registered Nurse Midwife course in Colorado Springs. She is engaged to be married next summer.
His wife Elizabeth met during their medical training, and they’ve been married six years. She is a family practice physician who has additional training in sports medicine.
Blease’s interests outside work include skiing, rock climbing, restoring classic cars and distance running, including marathons. He is concentrating on his telemark skills.
“I am a shooting enthusiast and look forward to having some room and time to work on those skills as well,” he said.
NOTE: For more photos of Dr. Blease and his wife Elizabeth go online to www.vp-mi-com.