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Dr. Rodriguez and H.O.P.E. Bring Patients New Option in Joint Replacement

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Dr. Rudy Rodriguez became a welcome addition to the medical community at the Missouri Delta Medical Center in 2013, bringing his orthopedic expertise and years of training and education in New York, Connecticut and Minnesota to the patients of Southeast Missouri. Now, he also offers his patients the benefit of  joint replacement surgery with a state-of-the-art robotic-arm assisted system.

This surgeon-controlled robotic technology, called the Mako Robotic-Arm Assisted Surgery System, is more precise in the placement of joint components, which can increase the life of the replacement joint, according to Dr. Rodriguez. And, the incision necessary to complete the replacement surgery is smaller, which reduces recovery time.

“This robotic-arm system allows us to be more precise than ever before,” Dr. Rodriquez says. “Instead of using an anatomical landmark to place the component, we use a three-dimensional image from a CT and the robotic system shows us where the cuts need to be made and where the component should be placed.”

Dr. Rodriguez says that when he compares a pre-operative image created by the Mako Robotic-Arm System and a post-operative image of the patient’s new joint, the two are almost an exact match. “It’s that accurate,” he says.

Currently, the system can be used for hip replacements and for partial knee replacements, giving patients needing these procedures hope for shortened recovery time and improved joint longevity. That hope is what inspired a group of elementary school students to name the robot.

The hospital recently held a contest seeking names for the “robot” and the students at St. Francis Xavier School won with their suggestion of  “HOPE” (Helping other People Electronically). Dr. Rodriguez says he wasn’t part of the selection committee, but he thinks the name is appropriate.

“This system helps the surgeon put the component in the best possible anatomical place, with the least invasiveness, and that’s why I think this technology will be adopted by more and more hospitals and be developed for more and more procedures,” Dr. Rodriguez says. “It’s more advantageous for the success of surgery.”


Dr. Rodriquez received his bachelor of science degree from Brigham Young University. While a student there, he worked on a research project that involved studying osteoarthritis, which led to his interest in medicine and orthopedics. From that research experience, he published an article in the Osteoarthritis and Cartilage journal in 2004.

He attended medical school at University of Connecticut School of Medicine where he was a member of the Scientific Research Society and was recognized for his presentation on “Reducing the Burden of Osteoporosis.”

He completed an Orthopedic Surgery Residency at the University of Minnesota and then an upper extremity and hand fellowship at Columbia University Medical Center/New York Presbyterian Hospital.

Dr. Rodriquez said that he chose to move from New York to Sikeston, MO, because he wanted to practice general orthopedics and have the opportunity to treat a full array of different conditions. “If you practice in a big city, you only do knees or only do hips – you have to narrow to one small area of orthopedics,” he says. “I find it more more interesting to work with patients with a variety of conditions and to practice all the skills I learned throughout my education.”

Dr. Rodriquez attended specialized training to work with the Mako Robotic-Arm Assisted Surgery system, practicing with a surgeon experienced with the system before beginning to treat patients with the system last fall.

Missouri Delta Medical Center is the only hospital offering this procedure for hundreds of miles, and Dr. Rodriguez is proud to be able to provide this service to his patients.

“Some people think you have to go to a big city for this, but that’s not the case,” he says. “We have it right here.”


Dr. Rodriguez and his wife, Amy,  have three children, Aubrey, 12, Leila, 9, and James, 5. He said the move from New York to Missouri was a little bit of an adjustment for the family, but they love the area and have discovered a love of hiking in the nearby towns.

“When we go on vacation, we like to get to the ocean, but we enjoy day trips to places like Mark Twain National Park and St. Genevieve,” he says.

Like most families with young children, the Rodriguez family stays busy getting kids to their extra curricular activities and sports. When he discovers a little down time, Dr. Rodriguez enjoys baseball, golf and reading.

Missouri Delta Orthopedics

Missouri Delta Orthopedics includes Dr. Rodriguez, a physician’s assistant and two nurse practitioners. They treat all types of orthopedic conditions including patients needing joint replacements or those with sports injuries, meniscus tears, shoulder dislocations, and hand, elbow, feet and knee issues.   The practice sees patients from Sikeston and all the surrounding communities, including Poplar Bluff, Charleston, Southern Illinois and even some from the Memphis area.

“I like meeting people and seeing how they are doing,” Dr. Rodriguez says about his job. “I take a real interest in people and developing the doctor/patient relationship. That’s what drives me to go to work every morning.”

About the Author

Michelle Cox is a wife, mother and professional freelance writer/communications specialist in St. Louis, MO. She’s a regular contributor to and an author for (launching in September 2016) as well as their social media director. She also writes short stories and is working on her first novel, and she writes about writing on her website,, where she encourages other midlifers (not young, never “old”) to pick up a pen or keyboard.

Jackie Bulgin

Jackie Bulgin – Emerging Victorious

By | Magazine Articles, Women to Know | No Comments

JACKIE BULGIN LEADS ONE OF THE MOST SUCCESSFUL real estate teams in central Missouri – Jackie Bulgin & Associates in Columbia, MO. Her clients and colleagues know her as an effective, smart, action-oriented real-estate agent and leader in the business community. But Jackie’s determination and inclination toward success also served her well in her personal life, carrying her through not one, but three personal battles with cancer.

Having grown up at the Lake of the Ozarks, Jackie first came to Columbia, MO, to attend college at the University of Missouri. She received her undergraduate degree in mathematics and psychology education and taught at Columbia Hickman High School and Quincy, Illinois High School for 10 years.

Eventually, Jackie returned to college to work on her graduate degree and she was teaching mathematics at the university when she met her second husband, Lawrence Bulgin. Lawrence was a builder and developer and he wanted his wife to work with him, so he encouraged to obtain her realtors license.

“He had a construction company and already had his realtor’s license, so I got my license in 1979 and we started Bulgin Real Estate, which was a ‘mom and pop’ construction company and development company,” Jackie says. “We built houses, developed land and the real estate company to market the properties.”


Cancer Makes Its Appearance

The couple expanded the business in the years following their marriage, adding a condo development, office park, mini warehouse and a car wash. Jackie faced her first bout with cancer during this time, which involved cancer of the cheek in 1984.


In 1990, she and Lawrence decided to merge their real estate company with House of Brokers Realty, which is a locally-owned real estate brokerage company that had been in business since 1981. Jackie is one of six owners of the company along with Bev Curtis, Carol Denninghoff, Gary Meyer, Wanda Northway and Jeff Radel.


About 10 years after the merger, Jackie learned that she would follow in the footsteps of her mother, a breast cancer survivor, and her late aunt, who died of breast cancer when Jackie was young. Jackie’s cancer was discovered in 2001.


“My mother was a breast cancer survivor and she had a very aggressive form of cancer, so that put me into early mammograms,” Jackie says. “I went for my yearly checkup and the cancer did not show up on the mammogram or on the sonogram, but a very observant nurse saved my life.”


The nurse noticed some dimpling on Jackie’s left breast and she ordered a biopsy. The biopsy showed cancer, and Jackie opted for a double mastectomy.


She underwent chemotherapy and radiation, and then did re-construction in 2002. All the while, she kept her cancer battle very private. Thanks to her team, she would schedule her chemotherapy treatments on Fridays so that she could suffer the worst effects of the treatment over the weekend and be back on her feet and back at work by Tuesday.


“At the time, I didn’t want people to know what was going on because I didn’t want them to ask me how I was feeling. I just thought that would be a negative for me, so I didn’t tell anyone about it until I was completely done with treatment.”


Sadly, in October of 2003, Lawrence was diagnosed with Glioblastoma brain cancer. He underwent radiation treatment and was scheduled to start chemotherapy after the first of the year, but he collapsed and died suddenly in December.


“When he died, my whole world turned upside down and my work became extremely important to me,” Jackie says. “I had always been very involved in work, but it was even more important to me then – it’s where I put all my energies.”


Jackie and Lawrence had closed the building company a couple of years before he died, and she sold off some of the other parts of their business so she could focus more on real estate.


Unfortunately, in 2012, Jackie faced cancer yet again. She was diagnosed with cancer inside her mouth on the jaw bone. The required extensive radiation which resulted in the removal of a portion of her jaw. Her jaw was reconstructed in a two-step process; first by taking some bone from her leg and moving it to her jaw, then by placing a titanium plate in her jaw. In addition to all this, the extensive radiation burned the inside of her mouth, her taste buds and salivary glands.


“I couldn’t talk very well and it was a very rough five months,” she says. “I had wonderful support from my family and physicians, and my team again, picked up work for me and kept things going during that time. I couldn’t have done it without all that support.”


Jackie said that when she first learned of her jaw cancer, she felt alone. “I thought , ‘I’m the only one in the world who has this.’ But then I found out the surgeon in Columbia does 60 to 70 of these surgeries a year. Now I’m very grateful to be a three-time cancer survivor.”


Passionate About Business

Through it all, Jackie remained committed to her business and her clients. “I really love my job and working with people,” Jackie says. “I look forward to work everyday. It’s just fascinating because there are never two days that are the same, never two clients that are same.”


Jackie says it’s a joy to help people select a home. “You become a part of their lives because it is one of the biggest investments they will make in a lifetime. Whether someone is buying their first home, upsizing or downsizing, it’s exciting to be a part of a milestone in their lives.”


Not surprisingly, Jackie is surrounded by others who are similarly passionate about the business. The House of Brokers continued to grow, and currently has 85 agents. Jackie’s team has three agents in addition to her partner, Shannon O’Brien and associates, Nicole Waldschlager and Debbie Fischer.


Jackie says her passion for real estate and her entrepreneurial spirit come from her parents. Her father was a builder at the Lake of the Ozarks, and her mother led a craft novelty business. “They were always self-employed and had a great work ethic,” she says.



Family and Community

In addition to a passion for her work, Jackie considers herself blessed on the family front. She has a daughter, Paula Elam, and a stepson and daughter-in-law, Trevor and Denise Bulgin, all of Columbia. Her stepdaughter, Melinda Schumacher and her husband Rick, and their four children live in Olathe, KS.


During her spare time, Jackie is active in her community. She has been extensively involved in and was a charter member of the Regional Economic Development Inc., and she served on the Columbia Planning & Zoning Commission from 1979 to 1984. She also served on the Governor’s Council for Affordable Housing and as a past treasurer, secretary, vice president and on the Board of Directors of the Columbia Board of Realtors.


She continues to do some volunteer work for Phoenix Programs, a organization that serves individuals suffering from addiction. And she contributes to Honor Flight Network because her father was a World War II veteran.


Remaining Vigilant

Because Jackie’s mother and aunt had experienced breast cancer, she was vigilant from a young age about getting checkups.


Her daughter, Paula, has regular check-ups and recently had something show up that required an MRI. For now, her doctors are watching it. And her step-daughter, Melinda, lost her mother to breast cancer and her father to the brain tumor, so she’s also dedicated to getting screened.


My family and I are eternally grateful to my nurse and for her skills and expertise in finding my “needle in a haystack” tumor. Please tell everyone you know, breast exams can save a woman’s life, I know because it saved mine.


About the Author

Michelle Cox is a wife, mother and professional freelance writer/communications specialist in St. Louis, MO. She’s a regular contributor to and an author for (launching in September 2016) as well as their social media director. She also writes short stories and is working on her first novel, and she writes about writing on her website,, where she encourages other midlifers (not young, never “old”) to pick up a pen or keyboard.