New general surgeon at work in Brookings

Courtesy photo: Dr. Sara Marroquin, a general surgeon who recently joined Avera Medical Group Brookings, performs a surgical procedure. She joined the staff after completing a five-year general surgery residency at University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine in Sioux Falls.

BROOKINGS – With the addition of Sara Marroquin, M.D. and general surgeon, to its staff, Avera Medical Group Brookings now has increased its capacity to better serve the surgical needs of its patients. 

Following a five-year general surgery residency at University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine in Sioux Falls, she now joins Dr. Theresa Oey-Trudeau, also a general surgeon, and will share the group’s surgical cases. 

“It’s kind of a broad topic, general surgery,” Marroquin said, in describing her specialty. “We do surgery on the abdomen, breast cancer surgery, skin cancer surgeries, screening colonoscopies, colo-rectal cancer surgery, hernias, gall bladders, small bowel obstruction, most things in the abdomen.” 

It excludes heart surgery, strictures, diverticulitis, and other surgical specialties such as orthopedic, ear, nose and throat.  

“Neck down,” she added, with a hint of humor.

The doctor is a native of and grew up in Coos Bay, Oregon, which she described as “a small town, pretty much the same size as Brookings.” 

She did her undergraduate studies at Linfield College, Oregon. Following her pre-med work, she attended the University of Hawaii, earning a master’s degree in public health with a focus on health policy. She then completed her MD studies at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland. Then came her residency in Sioux Falls, which she completed in June.

Focusing her practice

Marroquin is well into her work routine. 

“I’ve had quite a few clinic patients. I’ve done some chest tubes; two emergency procedures, which were chest tubes. (One) happened on my first day on call.”

She’s into a schedule of Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays in the clinic; Tuesdays and Fridays in the operating room.

“I’m going to try to make my practice focus on a couple areas of general surgery,” she explained. “The big ones are diagnostic and screening colonoscopies and endoscopies. I’m going to start taking  most of the breast cancer patients.”

Marroquin and Oey-Trudeau are working together to share the surgical workload somewhat according to their interests.

“We have a robot here,” Marroquin added. “I’m going to try to do some robotic surgery, especially focusing on hernias, gall bladders, colons and cancers.” 

She has been certified as being proficient in robotic surgery.

The doctor explained that at Sanford in Sioux Falls, about 40% of surgeons on their residencies are certified to do robotic surgery. Most of the surgery done there was either laparoscopic or robotic. Marroquin said she feels “pretty comfortable with either one.” 

“It’s kind of a preference,” Marroquin said in addressing the procedures of her profession. “(Robotic surgery) is becoming the new thing; it’s becoming more routine,” she added. “I feel very comfortable doing robotic surgery.”

In layman’s terms, she explained the three ways to do surgery: “Open surgery, the old-school way, open up, big incisions; laparoscopic surgery, little instruments and cameras; and robotic surgery, essentially laparoscopic surgery but a different platform to handle the instruments.”

She explained that laparoscopic surgery is like using “two sticks and a two-dimensional view.” Robotic surgery is “more like a 3-D view when you look in there.” 

And it makes “suturing inside the body easier to do.”

Connections to S.D.

Marroquin, 32, is married to South Dakotan Kent Skrondahl, who is originally from Pierre but who had lived in Sioux Falls “for quite a long time. His family is all up and down the east side of South Dakota.”

“We were either going to stay in South Dakota where his family is or move to Oregon where my family is,” the doctor explained. “But I like the medical field in South Dakota, the community. I know everyone here. I kind of like it here better than in Oregon. His family’s here, so we thought we’ll stay here.

“But my goal when I started this way a long time ago was to go back to a town the size of where I grew up to practice in. Being a physician in that size town, you can be part of the community, you can make a difference in your community. I was looking for jobs in this area, and we really like Brookings. Brookings is a great place.”

Sara and Kent have twin 4-year-old girls who have just started pre-school. 

The couple bought a house in Brookings in April and moved in their furnishings. Then for a couple months they lived in both Sioux Falls and Brookings, then sold their Sioux Falls house in June.

“We’ve been here all summer, actually. We had two months off, really. I studied for my boards (for accreditation in general surgery) in July and then “had a month to hang out, so we really explored the community.

“We like it that there’s a college here, because it gives us a young, vibrant feel. We joined the Children’s Museum (of South Dakota). The 4-year-olds love the ‘dinosaur place,’ as they call it,” Marroquin said.

“And I’m a big runner, so I’ve been trying to figure out the whole trail system. There’s a good trail system here; it’s really nice.”

Contact John Kubal at [email protected]

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