Dr. Vincent Vena is a medical doctor with subspecialty training in orthopedic surgery. His wife, Dr. Johanna Vena (VMD), is a veterinarian and the owner of Cambria Veterinary Care in Johnstown. The couple has three children; Aubrey, 23, studying at the University of Pennsylvania to be a veterinarian; Mitchell, 21, studying at Penn State University to be a mechanical engineer; and Ronny, 18, a senior at Bishop McCort High School.
Where are you from?
I grew up on a farm in Munster, Cambria County, and am, therefore, a local. Johanna was raised in Pittsburgh. We met at Penn State and, after our training, made the decision to return to the area to raise our family.
Why did you choose to return to Johnstown?
Given our training, we could have gone anywhere, but Johanna and I choose to return to the area to be near our families. We saw Johnstown as a great area to practice medicine and raise our children. Even though I knew I didn’t want to make a living being a farmer, I never lost the love of farming. We live on a farm in the Johnstown area where we raise beef cattle. We also have horses, sheep, chickens, peacocks and many pets. I found great value in being raised on a farm and we wanted that discipline for our children.
What is your medical background?
My training was extensive. I spent 16 years after high school training to be an orthopedic surgeon. I didn’t start working until I was in my 30s. I have bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Penn State. I went to medical school at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia and did my internship and residency at the University of Rochester in New York.
How long have you been with Western Pennsylvania Orthopedics?
I have been working at Western Pennsylvania Orthopedics here in Johnstown for over 21 years. The practice has been a key provider for orthopedics in the community for over 30 years since it was founded by Dr. Moses. We currently have four physicians; Dr. Richard Schroeder, Dr. Ian Katz, Dr. Kristen Strannigan and me. We have recently partnered with the Conemaugh Physician Group and we are excited about the positive changes we hope this brings.
What kind of surgery do you do?
I am a general orthopedic surgeon. The majority of my elective surgeries are for the hip, knee and shoulder. I do a number of total hips, knees and shoulders. I am trained in robotic surgery and am moving toward a goal of incorporating that at Conemaugh Hospital. I do numerous arthroscopic knee and shoulder surgeries. I also do fracture care and help to cover the trauma service at Conemaugh. I have a special interest in taking care of complex shoulder issues and was first in the area to do an all-arthroscopic rotator cuff repair, which has since become the standard of care.
What is your favorite surgery or most challenging surgery and why?
That’s a tough question, as I enjoy most of what I do. Unlike the other surgical specialties, orthopedics involves many operations in many different areas of the body. I enjoy the variety of what I do and I think that makes me well suited to serve the community as a general orthopedist. I have particularly enjoyed the evolution of total joint surgery over the years to improved approaches, better component designs and faster and less painful recoveries. For example, I have learned to do total hip replacements through any and all approaches available and can tailor that skill set to the specific needs of the patient. Therefore, my favorite surgeries are those that offer the best reward and outcomes to the patient.
The most challenging surgeries are those that are often hard to get perfect outcomes. These would have to be the big traumas. It's hard to take a multi-trauma patient and get them back to the perfectly normal person they were prior to the trauma. Granted, we are helping them, but the effects of the trauma often last.
When not working, what do you do for leisure activity?
Our farm keeps us very busy when we are not working. There are constantly things to do as we do not have outside help and keep the farm running as a family. I also enjoy hunting and conservation activities on and off the farm. Many of my non-call weekends are spent participating in my kids’ activities. My youngest son Ronny races dirt bikes, as I once did, and we are often traveling to races on the weekend.
What do you enjoy about this area?
I have had the opportunity to see many other areas yet continue to be drawn back to Johnstown. It is a beautiful area of the country with a strong-knit community filled with hard-working, respectable people. We are happy to stay committed to the area and hope the future holds local opportunities for our children.