Mon Health cardiologist stayed close to home to help give back to the people of his state

MORGANTOWN – Dr. Anthony Roda-Renzelli is a home-grown physician saving the lives of West Virginians at Mon Health Medical Center.

Roda-Renzelli is an interventional cardiologist who performs procedures such as stents and angioplasties.

He graduated from Bridgeport High in 1995 and was the first in his family to go to college. “I really didn’t know what I was doing.”

But his parents dropped him off at WVU in Morgantown, and he chose his career because “my mom would always say, ‘I want you to be a doctor.’ I’m like, ‘That sounds like a good idea.’ Then that’s what happened.”

He did his undergraduate and medical training and fellowship at WVU and worked there until last July. He specialized in heart care because he liked human anatomy and cardiac physiology clear back in high school. And he likes the challenge of having to think through each case.

Last July, he moved to Mon Health, to work with his friends and “family” at the Heart & Vascular Center. Dr. Wissam Gharib, he said, is like an older brother. Dr. Brad Warden, center director and chief of cardiology, is like a dad. Dr. Krishna Kishore Bingi trained under him as a fellow and is a good friend.

“You came back to work in a friendly atmosphere with people that you trust, people that you admire, people who mentored you and people that you mentored. … So, it’s kind of fun when you come to work, and you work with your friends.”

He also does clinics at Stonewall Jackson and in Elkins.

What kept him in West Virginia? Family first, he said, but also to give back to the state.

His maternal grandfather Roda – thus his hyphenated name – owned a Bridgeport restaurant. A great-grandfather had a hand in designing Pete Dye golf course. A great-grandmother Emily is the namesake for Emily Drive.

“People treat me well here. People take care of me I take care of them. … I’m here because I’m a local guy. I just wanted to help the people of my state who’ve been so good to me.

We talked about his work and some of the challenges, with West Virginia ranking at the bottom nationally in health problems.

Some of his close friends work in Florida, he said. “They don’t see what we see,” they tell him. “Cases here are more complex.” Friends would visit from other states, too, and say “Man, these are tough cases.”

West Virginia is among top three states for smoking rates, according to the state Division of Tobacco Prevention. And that plays a part in what he sees and treats.

“I always harp on my patients about smoking, in a nice way. My number one thing is, my patients all know it, you’ve got to quit smoking first.”

Recently, a patient almost died of ventricular fibrillation in the cath lab. After the procedure, he lightly told her what he also tells others, “’Hey, you quit smoking today, right?’ They just look at you look like, ‘I did?’ I said, ‘Yeah, think about what happened to you.”

Even though his work involves saving people who suffer heart attacks or other heart conditions, “My main goal when I see patients is prevention. How can you be healthier to prevent that? What steps can you take before a heart attack?”

He advises, “Just live a healthier lifestyle. People need to think and not wait until something happens.”