Andrew Petrella, MD

Andrew Petrella, MD - Citrus Orthopaedic & Joint Institute

Physician’s Excellence in Healthcare Award

Dr. Andrew Petrella always wanted to be a doctor. He also was always involved in sports, so orthopedic medicine seemed like a natural fit. The Kalamazoo, Michigan, native found Citrus County to be a natural fit, too.

Petrella is the founder of the Citrus Orthopedic & Joint Institute, which for 18 years has provided medical and surgical treatment for adults and children with musculoskeletal disorders. What started as a small, one-physician practice has grown to include three physicians, four physician assistants, diagnostic, and other services.

“We cover all orthopedic care,” said Petrella. “We do hip and knee replacements, knee arthroscopy, hand surgery, such as for carpal tunnel syndrome, and sports medicine.”

After graduating from the University of Michigan, Petrella earned his medical degree from the University of Pennsylvania. It was during his residency at Shands Hospital in Gainesville that he discovered Citrus County.

“I wanted to start my own practice,” he said. “We had a lot of patients from Citrus County coming to Gainesville for their care, so I knew there was a need here for an orthopedist.

“I don’t like cities and I love the outdoors, so this seemed just right for us.”

Petrella serves as medical director of the new Bone & Joint Center at Bayfront Seven Rivers Hospital, where he does his surgeries.

“It’s one of the best places you could go in our region to have a joint replaced,” he said, noting that the unit includes all private rooms and a dining room where patients have their meals together.

“The patients go to the gym for therapy twice a day, rather than having therapy in their rooms. We get you up and walking, doing laps in the hall,” he added. “It’s a nice setting; it doesn’t have a typical hospital feel to it. It helps patients recover mentally faster, realizing, ‘hey, I’m getting up going to the gym, or to eat.’ We want to get them out to restart their lives and not fixate on the surgery.”

Recognizing that some patients may have a more difficult time with recovery, due to other health issues, or age, the Bone & Joint Center provides a mandatory “Joint Camp” for all patients, and their “coaches,” in the months before surgery.

“They learn the exercises ahead of time, about the surgery, and what they can expect during recovery,” Petrella said. “A good recovery can be more of a challenge for some patients. We find that if they have a coach – a spouse, adult child, friend – they gain a better understanding of the process.”

“Dr. Petrella is one of reasons Bayfront Health Seven River’s Bone & Joint Center is one of the best orthopedic centers in Florida,” said his nomination. “He is an accomplished surgeon with excellent skills and positive interaction with his patients. The number of highly satisfied past patients returning to our 90-day reunion at our Bone & Joint Center is a testament to the great job he has done in giving them opportunity for a second chance for a quality life following total knee and total hip surgeries. Dr. Petrella is truly a Healthcare Hero and a community hero.”

Advancements in the science and technology of joint replacements also has contributed to better patient outcomes, Petrella said.

“When I trained, knee replacement patients would be using a walker or cane for three to four months. Now we get you up and moving the first night, and you can be off a cane in two to four weeks. The whole process is better than it ever was,” he said. “The longevity of joint replacements is better than ever. The joints used to last about 15 years; now they are much more durable.

“The implants are better, and the surgical techniques are better,” he said, adding that some hip replacement surgery can be less invasive. “While it’s not easy to recover from a joint replacement, it is so much easier than it used to be. The process has become much more perfected.”

Petrella and his wife, Jennifer, have two children: Drew 15, and Olivia, 11. In his spare time, Petrella is usually driving them to sports practices and other activities.

“They are the full-time job,” he said. “They keep us going all the time.” 

A medical practice can only be successful with the right team in place, said Petrella. From his point of view, they all share the Healthcare Hero award.

“People don’t see the work behind the scenes, especially in an office this size,” he said about the staff at Citrus Orthopedic and Joint Institute. “The medical assistants, the front desk staff, X-ray and MRI techs – everyone contributes to make us successful. You can have the best doctor in the world, but you can’t provide good care with good support staff.

“People hopefully recognize that we do good work, we care, we do the best we can every time,” he added. “With medicine, you unfortunately can lose perspective with so many rules and regulations.

“I try the best I know how to take care of my patients in the best way I can. I think that’s the key to good medicine. Our PAs are excellent, they really facilitate making me look good. It’s not just me; it’s a reflection of our practice as a whole.”

Healthcare Heroes 2019