America at Its Best: Kitch’s Knee Replacement Surgery, Dr. Harry Schmaltz, Part 5.

Written by Tony Mussari, Sr.
Edited by Kitch Loftus-Mussari
Digital Photographs by Tony Mussari, Sr.
Copyright 2014
Mussari-Loftus Associates
The Face of America Project

It is necessary that a surgeon should have a temperate and moderate disposition… He should be of deep intelligence and of a simple, humble, brave, but not audacious disposition. Guido Lanfranchi

The Kopen Standard

Three weeks before Kitch’s knee replacement surgery, I designed a graphic to express our feelings about our friend Dr.Two Beautiful People EKRFC Dan Kopen. The note I wrote to Dr. Kopen began with these words:

Your call was the highlight of the week.  It came the day after I drove Kitch to Geisinger-CMC for pre-admission testing and an orientation about knee replacement surgery. You were with us on this journey, because we measure everyone in the medical profession according to the "Kopen Standard" of compassion, competence and understanding.

The message for the graphic was drawn from the priceless words of Dr. Elizabeth Kubler- Ross:

The most beautiful people…are those who have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and understanding of life that fills them with compassion, a gentleness, and deep loving concern.

Dr. Schmaltz & Kitch_4238

During the past three years, Kitch has had four surgeries. Three were performed by Dr. Dan Kopen, and the most recent surgery was performed by Dr. Harry Schmaltz. Both surgeons have a lot in common.

During Kitch’s battle with breast cancer, Dr. Kopen set the standard for best practices. His actions and his relationship with us during that time and after defined the characteristics of a good surgeon.

During a chance meeting with Dr. Schmaltz on the second day of Kitch’s knee replacement surgery, I expressed our gratitude for his excellent treatment, and I told him about Dr. Kopen. Before our conversation ended, I made it very clear that he met the Kopen Standard.

The Qualities of a Good Surgeon

In the Middle Ages, Henri de Mondeville established this goal for a successful surgeon:

Let the surgeon take care to regulate the whole regimen of the patient’s life for joy and happiness by promising that he will soon be well, by allowing his relatives and special friends to cheer him… The surgeon must forbid anger, hatred, and sadness in the patient, and remind him that the body grows fat from joy and thin from sadness.

In 1824, Sir Astley Paston told his students:Astley_Paston_Cooper_2 sm

It is the surgeon’s duty to tranquillize the temper, to beget cheerfulness, and to impart confidence of recovery.

In 1932, Wilfred Batten Lewis Trotter offered this insight:

It is sometimes asserted that a surgical operation is or should be a work of art … fit to rank with those of the painter or sculptor…

640px-Ephraim_McDowell sm

In 2004, Dr. H.Biemann Othersen, Jr. used the life of Dr. Ephraim McDowell, the first person to remove an ovarian tumor, to identify the characteristics of a successful surgeon. He identified them in what he called “C words,” the personal characteristics that enabled Dr. McDowell to be successful: Courage, Compassion, Commitment, Confidence, Competent, Careful, Courteous (Humble).

Those who knew Dr. McDowell said he was a man of benevolence, faith, truth and sincerity. One writer described him as a man with a perfect heart.

In 2007, Dr. Thomas R. Russell, the executive director of the College of Surgeons,Dr Russell _sm
shared this thought with Alex Berenson who was writing an article for the New York Times:

A good surgeon also has to have compassion and humanity, and not be someone who is arrogant and difficult to deal with.

Dr. Russell also emphasized the need to be technically adept and the need to be able to change. In an age of minimally invasive surgery the old adage that great surgeons make big incisions no longer applies. Today, the goal is minimally invasive surgery.

Dr. Harry Schmaltz

It may surprise you to learn that the words of Guido Lanfranchi were written before America was discovered.

Yes, you read it correctly. These words were written in 1296 by the founder of surgery in France in a work entitled Chirurgia Magna:

It is necessary that a surgeon should have a temperate and moderate disposition… He should be of deep intelligence and of a simple, humble, brave, but not audacious disposition.

They reinforce the words of the late Dr. Thomas R. Russell and the 6 “C’s” of Dr. Ephraim Mc Dowell.

Lanfranchi’s though reminds us that words of wisdom last forever.

Dr Schmaltz_3423

In my opinion, the offerings of these doctors provide an excellent description of what Kitch and I experienced working with Dr. Harry Schmaltz, the members of his office staff and his surgical team.

Dr. Schmaltz loves his work. He selects good people to work with him. He is innovative, and he agrees with the new adage: “Great surgeons make the smallest incisions possible.” He and the members of his team, go to great lengths to minimize pain and shorten the time patients stay in the hospital.

Dr. Schmaltz respects his patients and their caregivers. He is a good, decent, kind person and a competent surgeon with a detailed plan and a remarkable team which guaranteed the success of Kitch’s operation.

We are grateful that our paths crossed with this wonderful surgeon who personifies America and American health care at its best.

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