Radiologist joins Grass Valley Radiology team |

Radiologist joins Grass Valley Radiology team

Dignity Health Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital (SNMH) recently welcomed general radiologist Dr. Vladimir Merunka to the region when he joined Grass Valley Radiology (GVR), the local physician group providing radiological services at the hospital and SNMH Diagnostic Center.

Merunka grew up in Great Neck, NY, a suburb about 25 miles east of New York City. Initially earning his BS in Physical Therapy from Hunter College in 1999, he worked in that field for several years while earning his Medical Degree from the Stony Brook University School of Medicine in 2007.

Merunka describes himself as a visual person who has always been interested in drawing and architecture. Those interests drew him to radiology while in medical school. After completing his degree, Merunka participated in a transitional internship at Atlantic Health Systems in New Jersey and completed a diagnostic radiology residency program at Beth Israel Medical Center from 2008-2012.

The field of radiology is vast, and radiologists are typically tasked with solving a medical puzzle. They act as investigators helping to discover what is wrong within a patient’s body through a variety of tests. This could include reading x-rays, CT scans or MRIs, or performing procedures such as biopsies, barium studies and other tests that provide information to help a physician make a diagnosis.

The profession suits Merunka, and he shares that he especially enjoys working as a consultant to clinicians and playing a major role in the diagnostic process for patients.

“To me, it is one of the most exciting and important areas of medicine,” Dr. Merunka said.

Merunka and his fiancée Aimee, a special education teacher, fell in love with Northern California’s natural beauty while he was completing his Body Imaging fellowship at UC Davis over the past year. So when the opportunity arose for him to work for GVR, Dr. Merunka jumped at the chance, turning down offers in Ohio and his home state to stay in their Rocklin home.

“Aside from the great weather, people here are extremely friendly and easy going; so far we really like the west coast style of living,” he said. “I chose to work with GVR for many reasons. This position allows me to practice all facets of radiology and to have work-life balance in a community that we enjoy.”

The Grass Valley Radiology group consists of six board certified radiologists who read the diagnostic imaging studies performed on patients at the hospital. The Diagnostic Imaging department at the hospital oversees nuclear medicine, radiology, CT scans, ultrasound, MRI, women’s imaging, and bone density testing.

“The field of diagnostic imaging is often where physicians first look to help identify what is wrong with a patient,” explained Diagnostic Imaging Director Linda Waring.

Radiology at SNMH has changed significantly in the past decade, moving to an electronic system that allows patients to receive their test results in as little as two hours. That information can be shared with any other Dignity Health provider with the click of a mouse.

In addition to equipment that captures the images digitally, radiologists are now able to dictate their reports into a system that automatically transcribes it into text, saving countless hours of paperwork and allowing for more efficient readings for patients.

Another important part of the growth in the Radiology capabilities at SNMH will arrive later this year, when the hospital adds a new MRI machine, expanding the imaging services available to patients at the hospital.

Just as Merunka is enjoying his new position and community, feedback from patients and colleagues has been equally positive. “He’s extremely nice and a great addition to the team,” said Waring.

All physicians providing care for patients at SNMH are members of the medical staff and are independent practitioners, not employees of the hospital.

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