Gratitude Moments at Scranton Orthopaedic Specialists

Written by Tony Mussari, Sr.
Edited by Kitch Loftus-Mussari
Photographs by Tony Mussari
Copyright Mussari-Loftus Associates, LTD 2014
All Rights Reserved

Gratitude is the foundation for joy. That’s the secret! Until you find and live with gratitude and appreciation, you will never find joy.  Amanda Gore

Expressing Gratitude

For much of this year, Kitch and I have been working with Dr. Harry Schmaltz and his team of professionals at ScrantonIMG_5627 Orthopaedic Specialists. Kitch did all of the heavy lifting. She had total knee replacement surgery. I was fortunate to be her caregiver, her encourager, her helper. The words of Simone De Beauvoir accurately describe what I learned walking beside Kitch during her time of need:  

One’s life has value so long as one attributes value to the life of others, by means of love, friendship, indignation and compassion.  

Two words best describe the care Kitch received from Dr. Schmaltz and his team, excellent and compassionate. This is our attempt to express our gratitude to the people we met on this journey.

The English novelist and author of Black Beauty, Anna Sewell, once wrote:

It is good people who make good places.

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For Kitch and me, those words summarize the atmosphere at Scranton Orthopaedic Specialists. It is a welcoming place, and one of the persons who sets the tone is the administrator, Stephanie Bewick. Some would call her the office manager, Kitch and I call her a kind and thoughtful friend.  During one of our recent visits, we met Stephanie, and Kitch was able to personally express her gratitude for the all that Stephanie does and has been doing for many years.

The expression on Kitch’s face when she embraced Stephanie reinforces the wisdom of Anna Sewell’s words. Stephanie is a good person who makes Scranton Orthopaedic Specialists a good place.

Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr., was a keen observer of humanIMG_5581 nature. He told us:

Learn the sweet magic of a cheerful face.    

That message resonates with Dr. Schmaltz and the people who work with him. On September 25, we met Mary Ann. She is Dr. Schmaltz’s nurse. During Kitch’s recovery, she did everything in her power to minimize any inconvenience and pain. It is no exaggeration to say that Mary Ann is on call 24-7 in the service of patients once they leave the hospital. The smile on her face when she met Kitch provides an insight to her caring nature and kindness.  

When Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., encouraged us to learn the sweet magic of a cheerful face,he was describing the secret to Mary Ann’s success with Dr. Schmaltz’s patients.  

A Portrait of Competence and Compassion


Dr. Schmaltz is a pleasant person to be with. He is a thoughtful person who exudes a quiet confidence and humility. He always compliments the members of his team, and he celebrates the progress of his patients. His advice is deeply rooted in years of surgical and post-operative experience.

Dr. Schmaltz welcomes the participation of the caregiver in the process. When you meet with him, you get a feeling of belonging that lessens your anxiety. He talks with you in a conversational way that encourages questions. Yes, he takes great pride in his work, but he is not arrogant or dismissive.

During our post-operation visits with him, he took the time to explain every step in the process to full recovery. HeIMG_5601 showed us the images of Kitch’s knee replacement, and he assured Kitch that she was making great progress. He offered a few practical suggestions that would help Kitch, and he made one observation that put everything in perspective. Every month you will be more comfortable with the knee replacement. On the first anniversary of the surgery, you won’t even know that you have a replacement.

When Thomas Merton wrote this description of compassion, he was describing the atmosphere Dr. Harry Schmaltz creates for his patients:

The whole idea of compassion is based on a keen awareness of the interdependence of all these living beings, which are all part of one another, and all involved in one another.


After our visit with Dr. Schmaltz, we had a chance meeting IMG_5634with a very pleasant nurse named Grace. We were soon to learn that Kitch and Grace have something in common.  They are breast cancer survivors. While they exchanged stories about that challenging moment in their lives, a question a student asked me during a presentation at Luzerne County Community College flashed through my mind, “Where do we find our heroes?”

I was looking at two women who fit that description. During this moment the words of one of Kitch’s heroes took on new meaning.

Elizabeth Edwards battled breast cancer in 2004 and again in 2007. In 2010, this insidious disease took her life. Her inspirational legacy lives on in survivors like Kitch and Grace who fully appreciate her definition of resilience:

Resilience is accepting your new reality, even if it’s less good than the one you had before. You can fight it, you can do nothing but scream about what you’ve lost, or you can accept that and try to put together something that’s good.  

The people at Scranton Orthopaedic Specialists are dedicated to helping patients put together something that’s good.

While we were checking out we met two delightful people,IMG_5640 Janet and Gretchen. They help people arrange follow-up appointments. Their smiles are infectious, and their words are always kind and encouraging. Gretchen has been doing this work for 31 years. The picture captures their spirit of friendly cooperation. The atmosphere that makes Scranton Orthopaedic Specialists so special is a brilliant example of America at its best.

Thomas Fuller was absolutely on target with this advice:

Do something for your fellow man, not for the gold, but for the love of Man, and you shall truly have the gold. Thomas Fuller

Thank you, Stephanie Bewick for your welcoming way.

Thank you, Mary Ann for always being available to help Kitch.

Thank you, Dr. Schmaltz for your competent and compassionate care.

Thank you, Grace for your inspirational example.

Thank you, Kitch for your resilience.

Thank you, Janet and Gretchen for your friendliness and service.

Thank you, Scranton Orthopaedic Specialists. You can be sure we will enthusiastically recommend your services to our friends and relatives. You are one of Northeastern Pennsylvania’s treasures.

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