Posts Tagged ‘Dr. Harry Schmaltz’

The Final Visit

Friday, August 14th, 2015

Kitch’s Total Knee Replacement Surgery, The Final Visit.

Written by Tony Mussari, Sr.
Edited by Kitch Loftus-Mussari
Digital photographs by Tony Mussari, Sr.
Copyright 2015
Mussari-Loftus Associates
The Face of America Project

The good physician treats the disease; the great physician treats the patient who has the disease. William Osler

The Final Visit

On a dreary August morning, Kitch and I drove to Dickson City for our final appointment at Scranton Orthopaedic Specialists. ToWork Area_2592_sm avoid the construction on the interstate highway, we took the blue-lined roads.

Yes, we encountered construction on PA 11, but it was minor compared to what drivers encounter on I-81.

It was the first anniversary of Kitch’s total knee replacement surgery, a reunion of sorts with several people who helped her before, during and after her surgery, and an opportunity to discuss her progress and some challenges she is facing.

In our opinion, the medical professionals at Scranton IMG_2535_smOrthopaedic Specialists are first class. Dr. Harry Schmaltz and his team give special meaning to the words of the Canadian scientist, William Osler. Their treatment is deeply rooted in competence, compassion, camaraderie, caring, community and continuity.

What we experienced during this appointment reinforced our belief about the quality of care of these wonderful people.

They are interested in the person, and this creates a sense of belonging and a high degree of trust. Without trust there can be no healing. One of our greatest Olympians said it best:

The only bond worth anything between human beings is their humanness. Jesse Owens

They are pleasant and they are not in a hurry.

It is wonderful how attractive a gentle, pleasant manner is, and how much it wins hearts. St. Francis de Sales

They are willing to talk about the challenges, and they provide proven strategies for relief.

Whoever is in a hurry shows that the thing he is about is too big for him. Lord Chesterfield

Conversation should be pleasant without scurrility, witty without affectation, free without indecency, learned without conceitedness, novel without falsehood. William Shakespeare

A single conversation across the table with a wise person is worth a month’s study of books. Chinese Proverb


They live the principles of effective teamwork:

A group becomes a team when all members are sure enough of themselves and their contributions to praise the skill of others. (Author Unknown)

At one point during our visit, the words of Harold Kushner came to mind. They accurately describe what Kitch and I felt about the philosophy that permeates the care of Dr. Harry Schmaltz and his team at Scranton Orthopaedic Specialists .

Caring about others, running the risk of feeling, and leaving an impact on people, brings IMG_2575_smhappiness.

Thank you, Stephanie Bewick.
Thank You, Jamie.
Thank you, Ken.
Thank you, Mary Dunleavy.
Thank You, Mary Ann.
Thank you, Dr. Harry Schmaltz.

You and the members of your the team at Scranton Orthopaedic Specialists exemplify the best principles and the best practices of medicine. In our opinion, you are an example of America at its very best.

Please provide feedback to:

2014 A Year of Priceless Gifts

Wednesday, December 31st, 2014

2014 A Year of Priceless Gifts

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

Lord we thank Thee…for the health, the work, the food and the bright skies that make our lives delightful. Robert Louis Stevenson

The words of one of the most beloved poets best explain theGroup gratitude Kitch and I have for the priceless gifts we received in 2014 from our friends and family.

The year began with a memorable event at the Gateway Theater in Gettysburg. Thanks to the the kindness of Robert Monahan, Jr., the screening of Four Days of Honor and Valor in Gettysburg was a perfect way to share the story of the Medal of Honor convention, the values associated with the Medal of Honor and the transformation of the students from North Plainfield, New Jersey who attended almost all of the convention events recorded in the documentary.

After the screening, we received this comment from a mother and grandmother who attended the screening:

IT REALLY SHOULD BE SHOWN TO THE SCHOOLS as the majority of the youth are not exposed to the humility, sincerity and dedication that you presented.


In March, we had the good fortune to participate in the Annual Ethics Conference at Marywood University. Organized by Dr. Murray Pyle and several of his colleagues at Marywood, it was a day of learning, and a priceless opportunity to make new friends and experience the beauty and the welcoming atmosphere of Kitch’s Alma Mater.

This is one of the transformational thoughts offered at the conference; There is no dichotomy between being a good person and being a success in business.

Dr. Murray Pyle “We thank you for the peace accorded us this day.”

On a beautiful march day, we traveled to Baltimore to attend the 15thIMG_5217aMJKD Annual Women in Maritime History Awards. Our friend, Mary Jane Norris was the honoree. During her acceptance speech she shared this thought: Do small things well, because they all add up.

Mary Jane we thank you for the gift of your example.

In April, Dr. Rex Dumdum, Jr. arranged a screening of Four Days of Honor and Valor in Gettysburg at Marywood University. He attended to all the details of the event including dinner, a reception an afterglow, and the technical matters that make or break an event of this IMG_5597A250nature. Rex made sure there were no anxious or stressful moments before, during and after the screening.

It was an evening of community, friendship and learning.

There were no limits placed on the Q&A session. That enabled students, teachers and visitors to provide invaluable feedback. That experience inspired one of the students in attendance, Amber E. Clifford, to write a heartfelt comment about the documentary:

“Four Days of honor and Valor in Gettysburg is truly inspiring to those who are struggling to do what they know is right.”

Thank you Rex. You give special meaning to the words of Anna Sewell: “Good People make good places.”

In April, we participated in the annual Refresh Leadership Live Simulcast at the McCann School of Business in Wilkes-Barre, PA. ELL_5857_1_250

The facility was perfect for the event.

The people from the school were very pleasant.

The room where the event was held was an excellent choice for the session.

The members of the Express Pros team were very friendly and willing to do whatever they could to make everyone feel right at home. Their kind and welcoming way reduced the normal anxiety levels that accompany a presentation of this nature.

On that day, we met three radian faces of America, Kathleen Nolan Barrett and Kathy Barrett, Jeff Doran

In May, Amy Clegg invited us to participate in an Express Business Solutions Seminar in Scranton. Jack Smalley, the Director of HR Learning Amy Jack2and Development for Express Employment Professionals, gave an informative and inspirational presentation about leadership.

These are but two of the thoughts he shared with his audience:

Leaders are responsible. They leave the excuses behind.

Effective leaders do not accommodate falling stars. They encourage and reward excellence!

Jack Smalley is a man who exemplifies professionalism with heart.

Thank you, Jack for giving us the strength to encounter that which is to come.

In May, we traveled to North Plainfield, New Jersey for two screenings of our documentary. These events were organized by Tom Mazur. The screeningScreening 1_3_IMG_8045 at the High School enabled us to experience the ways in which the documentary resonates with students.

The comments students shared with us after the screening made the long and demanding days and nights of location shooting and editing worthwhile.

The evening screening showed us that adults relate to the messages in the documentary in very positive ways.

This screening gave us an opportunity to celebrate the leadership of the MB_Gift_8179retiring superintendant of schools, Dr. Marilyn Birnbaum. Without her belief in our work, we would not have been able to do what we have done in North Plainfield since 2009. That work may be over, but the positive memories will live on forever.

Later in the year, we joined a delegation from North Plainfield in Atlantic City. There we screenedFour Days of Honor and Valor in Gettysburg for a small audience at the New Jersey School Boards Association Convention. That venue proved the accuracy of Seneca’s words: It is quality rather than quantity that matters.

Several times this year, we had an opportunity to celebrate quiet heroes who make our world a better place because of their acts of kindness andIMG_4437 consideration. Many of these people are associated with Geisinger/CMC in Scranton and Scranton Orthopaedic Specialists. Several articles in our blog record the competent and compassionate medical care Kitch received during her total knee replacement surgery.

To Dr. Harry Schmaltz and his team of caring professionals an adaptation of Stevenson’s words best records our gratitude. We thank you for the hope with which we expect tomorrow.

In 2014, both Kitch and I spent a considerable amount of time in the hospital for tests and procedures. In our blog, we expressed our thanks to the people who did their jobs without noise or notice in an excellent and humane way.

Judy Bob200_9229sm

In October, we visited with our friends at Wilkes University. This occasion gave an old teacher a new classroom, and an opportunity to work with an impressive group of students who wanted to learn something about character education.

If you are looking for excellence in education, you need look no further than the creative work of Judy and Bob Gardner and their colleagues. What they are doing to enhance learning opportunities for students in the Education Department at Wilkes University is impressive.

Thank you Judy and Bob for giving us an opportunity to help you with the important work you are doing.

A few weeks later, we traveled to Luzerne County Community toIMG_6231 participate in the Annual History Conference. This year Bill Kashatus invited us to partner with Mollie Marti to tell the story of the life and legacy of Judge Max Rosenn. To do this we produced a new version of the Windsor Park Story we broadcast about Judge Rosenn in 2004. It was a sentimental journey to one of our favorite places with one of the most impressive leaders we have ever met, Judge Max Rosenn.


In November, we drove to Binghamton, New York to celebrate the naturalization of two of our very favorite people Viola and Rex Dumdum. Sitting in the historic courtroom where the ceremony took place gave us a better understanding of what America and the blessing of American citizenship is all about.

What a gift it was to welcome two magnificent citizens to America on their big day.

Perhaps the most challenging work we did during the year took place during the early morning hours after we had attended to our other responsibilities.

In January, shortly after the screening in Gettysburg, Kitch and I began to work on a book for our grandchildren. Designed to be a legacy gift, it is a visual narrative. It combines images from our Face of America project and several documentary projects like our What IsIMG_8304 for Article America? Series and our Miracle Project with the life lessons we have learned navigating the bumps on the road of life.

During their Christmas visit we presented the book as a surprise gift to the grandchildren and their parents.

In a way, it closed the circle for us.

An adaptation of the words in Robert Louis Stevenson’s poem Morning Prayer enables us to give thanks for the blessings of 2014 and look ahead to the New Year with hope:

Lord we thank Thee for the place in which we dwell… the peace accorded us this day…for our friends…give us the strength to encounter that which will come in 2015…that we may be brave in peril, constant in tribulation, temperate in wrath and in all changes of fortune, and down to the gates of death, loyal and loving to one another.

Happy New Year!

Please provide feedback to:


Gratitude Moments

Thursday, November 6th, 2014

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.

IMG_5522 - Copy

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.

Please provide feedback to:

Kitch’s Knee Replacement Surgery, Part 1.

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

America at Its Best: Memorable Moments from Kitch’s Total Knee Replacement Surgery, Part 1.

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

A gentle word, a kind look, a good-natured smile can work wonders and accomplish miracles. William Hazlitt

Lasting Impressions

William Hazlitt’s 15 words got me thinking about1.a Entering CMC_4035 several people who helped us during Kitch’s total knee replacement surgery at Geisinger-CMC in Scranton. Hazlitt’s beautiful words were written a long time ago, but they have value to every patient and caregiver who face the reality of serious surgery. When anxiety levels are high, the actions and words of the people you meet leave lasting impressions on the heart and soul.

This is an attempt to chronicle our experience and thank the people who went out of their way to calm our fears with a gentle word, a kind look and a good-natured smile.


We arrived at the hospital shortly at 5:45 a.m. We were anxious. The both of us have had serious surgery, and we know the rules of the road as it were. Despite the early hour, we were greeted in a friendly way in admissions. After the traditional forms were signed, and Kitch received her wrist band, we took the elevator to the fifth floor.

It was 5:57 a.m. when Kitch received her room assignment and the items she would wear for surgery.

At 6:21 a.m., a pleasant nurse helped Kitch with a number of things including additional wrist bands that clearly identified cautions and vulnerabilities.

At 6:49 a.m., nurse Betsy Guinan, the Nurse Navigator for 3.a Headline_4127New Steps Joint Replacement Center, walked into our room. She presented Kitch with a personalized edition of NEW STEPS NEWS. The headline summarized the story, KATHLEEN MUSSARI TO HAVE A NEW KNEE. The lead story offered this advice, The Big Day…don’t be nervous!

This gesture brought a smile to Kitch’s face, and it helped the both of us relax. We felt very comfortable withBetsy _4117 Betsy because we had a connection with her from what we affectionately call the “knee school.” Three weeks earlier, Betsy conducted a comprehensive introduction to the surgery, and its aftermath. During that session, Betsy shared valuable information about every aspect of knee replacement surgery.

Equally important, she created a sense of community and belonging for the patient and the caregiver. She made everyone in the room feel a sense of connection with her and the other members of Dr. Harry Schmaltz’s team. We weren’t numbers. We were people with a medical problem they intended to address with the best medical and therapeutic techniques available.

On this morning of apprehension, Betsy’s kind way and her engaging smile made our reunion with her very special. She calmed our fears and she lifted our spirits at a time when we needed encouragement. When she left the room, Kitch was ready to take the next step on her journey.

Waiting and Hoping

At 7:06 a.m., Kitch was taken to the second floor of the hospital 5 AAA_4146where she would be prepped for the operation. That involved conversations with her surgeon Dr. Harry Schmaltz, the anesthesiologist, the nurse anesthetist, and an unexpected, pleasant meeting with a nurse, Eileen who had a home town connection with Kitch. Their conversation about graduates from Dunmore High School helped Kitch to think about something other than the operation.

While Kitch was in surgery, I tried to pass the time in productive ways. To be honest, it wasn’t easy.

5. aCleaning up_4154

At sometime after 8 a.m., I went outside for a walk. Much to my surprise, I watched a crew of workers with brooms and dustpans cleaning both sides of the street in front of the hospital. I was impressed by the way they did their job.

I had a chance meeting with an old friend whose wife was having partial knee replacement surgery. We talked about our childhood experiences in a neighborhood barber shop where he learned to read, and I learned the power of community.

5 NNN_IMG_4185adj

When I returned to the fifth floor, I watched a woman with a duster clean every nook and cranny of the hallway. She was determined to do her part to maintain a high standard of cleanliness.

As I watched Karen work, I thought to myself how important this work is, and how conscientiously she is attending to it.

When the operation was finished, I was called to the nurse’s station to answer a telephone call from Dr. Schmaltz. His words were reassuring:

“The operation went well. There were no complications. All of her vital signs are positive. She is in the recovery room, and she is doing well.”

Without question, that was the best news of the day.

Together Again

It was 12:01 p.m., when the elevator door opened, and Kitch was brought back to the New Steps section of the fifth floor.

At 12:15 a delightful woman, Danielle Mazzoni, a nurse assistant, was6a. Nurse assistant_4192 attending to the things that would make Kitch comfortable. Danielle has been doing this kind of work for 17 years.

Two words best describe Danielle’s care, competent and compassionate. One word describes her demeanor, charming.

8 a Pleasant smile_4202

About an hour later, the door opened and a young woman with a beautiful smile entered the room with Kitch’s lunch. Mahadevi works in nutritional services. The words at the bottom of her identification card read “Make it the best.” She did exactly that with her courteous and cooperative manner and a smile that was just what the doctor ordered for a recovering patient and an anxious caregiver.

At 1:32 p.m. we received a visit from a respiratory therapist named Karen. She has been doing this kind of work for 35 years. She told us7 Breath in_4205 she loves her job, and it shows.

Karen is on a mission to protect patients from hospital acquired pneumonia. Standing at the foot of Kitch’s bed, she carefully explained how that is accomplished. It’s not all that easy to do the appropriate exercises 10 times every hour, but Karen inspires her patients to make the effort.

Kitch respected the information Karen shared, and she honored her suggestion to do the breathing exercise.

For most of the afternoon, Kitch rested. She obliged the visits she received from nurses and therapists who monitored her progress and checked a number of devices that guaranteed a successful outcome.

At one point, she slowly took her first steps with the help of a physical therapist. She also had her first cup of coffee, and she talked with her cousin on the telephone.

At 2:37 p.m., she had a priceless moment with a Chaitali dinner with a smile_4217Patel a member of the food services team. When Chaitali walked into the room to discuss the dinner menu with Kitch, her beautiful smile evoked a wonderful response from Kitch:

“You are a delightful young lady.”

The picture of Chaittali and Kitch is classic proof of the wisdom of William Hazlitt’s

When I left the hospital at 8 p.m., I knew that Kitch was in good hands.

Day one was a great success thanks in no small part to the incredibly successful process created by Dr. Harry Schmaltz and executed by members of his New Steps team and the Geisinger-CMC team. Yes, the medical science was right. Yes, the competence of the medical care Kitch received after the operation was right. There was, however, one differential in her care. It can best be described with an adaptation of the words of William Hazlitt:

The gentle words we heard lifted our spirits. The kind looks we received gave us a feeling of community and belonging, and the good natured smiles worked wonders for both the patient and her caregiver.

Thank you, Betsy.

Thank you, Eileen.

Thank You, Karen.

Thank You, Danielle.

Thank You, Mahadevi.

Thank You, Karen.

Thank You, Chaitali.

Thank you, Dr. Schmaltz, and a special thank you to the nurses and therapists who took care of Kitch throughout the day and during the long hours of her first night in the hospital.

Please provide feedback to:


Kitch’s Total Knee Replacement Surgery, Part 3.

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

America at Its Best: Memorable Moments from Kitch’s Total Knee Replacement Surgery, Part 3.

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

Determine that a thing can and shall be done and then… find the way. Abraham Lincoln


Four words best describe Kitch’s third day in the hospital: courage, determination, kindness and persistence.

Thumbs Up_4224

Kitch had a very difficult night. The nurses went out of their way to make her comfortable and enable her to get some rest.

At 8 a.m., a smiling Dr. Sal Lawrence visited with Kitch. The secret to their relationship is trust. Kitch knows from past experience that Dr. Lawrence will make every effort to help her. He did just that with kind words of encouragement.

Shortly after Dr. Lawrence left the room, Dr. Schmaltz entered. Dressed in his blue scrubs, he addressed one of the most important matters of the day, the removal of the bandages and the Jackson-Pratt Drain, a post-operative drain used for collecting fluids from the surgical site.

A physical therapist helped Kitch get into her street clothes.


When I arrived at 9:30 a.m., Kitch was sitting in a recliner next to her bed. She was dressed in Bermuda shorts and a black shirt. For the first time, her swollen right knee and the bandage over the 6 inch incision were clearly visible.

We talked about a number of things including the decision to make this her last day in the hospital.

Quiet Heroes

At 9:39 a.m., a polite and personable member of the housekeeping staff knocked on the door. When she started to clean the room, we were impressed by her manner and style. Yes, she cleaned everythingIMG_4295 thoroughly, but she did something else that lifted our spirits. She talked with us with warmth and kindness.

Dorie has a million dollar smile and a personality to match. She did more than clean the room. She brought comfort to its occupants. Talking with Dorie was the respite care we needed at this critical juncture in the day.

Robert E. Hudachek is a licensed social worker. There is only one way to describe his work. He is a link between the hospital and IMG_4315everyone who enters the front door. Little did he know when he entered Kitch’s room that this day would be a reunion day.

In 2007, Bob was the social worker at the hospital where I had my open heart surgery. He remembered both the television series Kitch and I produced about open heart surgery and the book we wrote about our experience.

This was a serendipitous moment for the three of us. For about 20 minutes we talked about our common experiences.

Bob has all the paper credentials for the important work he does. Equally important, he has all the human skills, sometimes called soft skills, needed to be an effective liaison between patients, family members, employees and the hospital.

Geisinger-CMC is to be applauded for maintaining a position like this and employing a person like Bob to do this important work.

Medical Care with a Personal Touch

Our next visitor provided invaluable information, and she set the direction and the tone for the day.IMG_4345

Mary Dunleavy has been working with Dr. Schmaltz for 17 years. She is a physician assistant. Everything about her is impressive. She is thorough. Her knowledge of the field is comprehensive. She appreciates the anxiety and fear of the patient and the caregiver. She has the gift of communication. She uses it to articulate inspiring messages of cooperation, encouragement and hope. She is willing to take the initiative to help eliminate pain and stress.

When you talk with Mary Dunleavy she is focused. She is a very good listener. She has mastered the art of listening with her eyes as well as her ears.


We were fortunate to have three conversations with Mary. At 10:46 a.m., she visited with us in Kitch’s room. She reviewed the medications Kitch was taking and she suggested some alternatives. To increase the hemoglobin (the number of red blood cells) she suggested that Kitch be given iron by intravenous.

She reinforced one of the most important goals of the day. It is better to leave the hospital and go home to familiar surroundings than prolong the stay in the hospital. The longer the stay in the hospital, she told us, the greater the possibility of infection.

That was a message both Kitch and I needed and wanted to hear. With Mary’s help, we designed a strategy to make it happen.

It would not be accomplished without a good deal of determination, courage and perseverance by Kitch. These are core values Kitch has practiced throughout her life.

In 1970, there were virtually no women in broadcast news in our part of the state. Kitch was one of the first females to crackKitch Nixon that barrier in radio. Throughout her career in both radio and TV, she was known for her determination to get the story and report it fairly without editorializing.

When she was diagnosed with breast cancer, she called upon these values to make it through chemotherapy and radiation treatment.

On this day, after a few setbacks caused by nausea and weakness, she managed to walk the hallway on the fifth floor twice, and she successfully demonstrated her ability to climb a few steps and get in and out of a car. Without meeting these requirements, she would not have been discharged from the hospital.

At 5:21 p.m., a nurse skillfully removed the needle used for intravenous therapy from the back of Kitch’s right hand, and we were ready to be discharged.

A Classic Act of Kindness

One of the most memorable acts of kindness Kitch experienced while she was in the hospital happened after Kitch was officially discharged from the hospital.

A young woman who worked at the nurse’s station in a non-medical IMG_4427capacity volunteered to look for a wheelchair and transport Kitch to the entrance of the hospital. Ambulatory services was backed up with a number of other patients who had been discharged at about the same time.

It is something Shannon Osborne had done many times before. It is not a part of her job description. Shannon is a pleasant person who likes to help patients when she can. In our opinion, what she did for Kitch and the spirit in which she did it gives truth to the prophetic words of Gabriella Cherup:

A hero is somebody who helps people

I had no hesitation about leaving Kitch at the entrance with Shannon while I went to the parking garage to get the car.

To my great surprise and delight, when I reentered the hospital to help Shannon, she and Kitch were engaged in a conversation withIMG_4437 Dr. Harry Schmaltz. His hands filled with charts and papers, Dr. Schmaltz took the time to talk with Kitch.

A Hollywood screenwriter could not conceptualize a better ending. It was all there in that scene. The surgeon may well do miraculous work in the operating room, but it takes a team effort to be successful there as well as in the patient’s room after the operation.

At 7:15 p.m, Kitch was home. It was a wonderful sight to see her IMG_4447take her first steps into our garden.

Before we ended the day we talked about all the experiences we had, and all the kind people who contributed to the success of the operation. We gave thanks for a day when courage, determination, kindness and persistence prevailed.

The poetic words of Edgar A. Guest best describe the genuine Faces of America at its best who we met during Kitch’s total knee replacement surgery.

Courage was never designed for show;
It isn’t a thing that can come and go;
It’s written in victory and defeat
And every trial a man may meet.
It’s part of his hours, his days and his years,
Back of his smiles and behind his tears.
Courage is more than a daring deed:
It’s the breath of life and a strong man’s creed.

Thank you, Dr. Sal Lawrence.

Thank you, Dorie.

Thank you, Robert E. Hudachek.

Thank you, Mary Dunleavy.

Thank you, Barb.

Thank You, Shannon Osborne.

Thank you, Dr. Harry Schmaltz and the team at Scranton Orthopaedic Specialists.

Please provide feedback to:

America at Its Best: Dr. Harry Schmaltz

Saturday, August 23rd, 2014

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.

Please provide feedback to:

America at Its Best: Kitch’s Operation, Quiet Heroes

Saturday, August 23rd, 2014

America at Its Best: Kitch’s Operation, Quiet Heroes, Pt. 6.

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

In our world of big names, curiously, our true heroes tend to be
Daniel J. Boorstin

What Is a Quiet Hero?

Six years ago, Secretary of the Navy Donald G. Winter, defined quiet heroism with these words:

20101117_winterdonald 300 It does not boast.

It does not seek the limelight.

It is carried silently, with dignity, and with quiet pride.

It is completely unlike the trappings of those who are often acclaimed as heroes on television and throughout our popular culture.

The Chicago journalist, Studs Terkel gave us this definition of a quiet hero:

Heroes are not giant statues framed against a red sky. They are people who say: This is my community, and it is my responsibility to make it better.

A blogger, Marci Fair gave us another insight into the heart of a quiet hero:

A quiet hero is not a myth, an icon or a legend – it is someone who is solid, genuine and real. The critical factor is not scale of heroism, but in fact that someone chose to “do the right thing, at the right time.”

During Kitch’s total knee replacement surgery, we were KLM SOS_3450privileged to meet several quiet heroes. The articles in this series were designed to express our gratitude to these people who, in our opinion, represent America at its best.

Today we want to thank two people we have never met. They are part of the heart and soul of Dr. Harry Schmaltz’s team. On several occasions they went out of their way to help Kitch resolve a number of problems she was having with the medications she was taking for pain.

Maryann is a nurse. She is a person with a caring heart and a willingness to help people. We do not know her last name, but we have a good idea about the beauty of her heart and the excellence of her service.

On several occasions she responded to our calls for help, and she never failed to respond in a timely way with good suggestions and encouragement.

Kitch and I are deeply grateful for her help.

Stephanie Bewick is the Practice Administrator at Scranton Orthopaedic Specialists. She has been doing this job for 23 years.

I met Stephanie on line three weeks before Kitch’s surgery. Since then, we have had a number of e-mail exchanges. Although we have never met, I think it is fair to say that Kitch and I have beenQuiet Heroes blessed by the beauty of her heart of gold.

Here are a few examples that will help our readers better understand the fundamental kindness of this quiet hero.

The notes she writes are always filled with affirmation and gratitude.

On the day of Kitch’s operation, she promised to stay in touch with members of Dr. Schmaltz’s team to monitor Kitch’s progress. She also told us it was a good omen that the operation was taking place on her 45th wedding anniversary.

Whenever she can help she does. She answered one of my notes from a location outside of a theater in New York City.

She defined one of the cardinal rules of her office when she wrote these words:

“…communication is the key–and we continually have to strive to be available to our patients to answer their questions and ensure the best possible outcome.”

Stephanie knows the territory. She has had both of her knees SOS_3460replaced by Dr. Schmaltz. When I told her that Judy Cutler was at our first in-home physical therapy session, this was her reaction:

A friend I’ve known for 30 years…and my home therapist when I had my knees done. She is a great motivator…compassionate but knows what she is there to do…follow her advice and she’ll lead Kitch far…

Our most recent exchange was about caregiving;. I told her I enjoyed being a caregiver, and she responded with words that perfectly define who she is:

I too like to be a caregiver. 32 years ago my husband was in a car accident after we were married for 7 years. It left him as a quadriplegic. We just celebrated our 45th anniversary…so I understand the meaning of caregiver. When it’s someone you love…It’s never work.

Mary Ann and Stephanie are quiet heroes. They are motivated by service not celebrity. They want to do the right thing for people who need help. They are living examples of the truth of Daniel Boorstin’s belief. True heroes do what they do without noise or notice, and that is what America is at its very best.

Thank You, Maryann.

Thank You, Stephanie.

Thank you Scranton Orthopaedic Specialists.

Please provide feedback to:

Nine Faces of America at Geisinger-CMC in Scranton

Sunday, July 20th, 2014

Nine Faces of America at Geisinger-CMC in Scranton, PA

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

If we are to love our neighbors… we must see not just their faces but the life behind and within their faces. Frederick Buechner

Getting to Know You

On this fine July day, I drove Kitch to Geisinger-CMC inCMCJR_sign_2658 Scranton for pre-admission testing and orientation. In a few weeks, Kitch will have total knee replacement surgery. Like most people who have this kind of surgery, she has many questions, and she is coping with a good deal of anxiety and fear.

Everyone we met during this visit provided encouragement, help and valuable information that calmed our fears and made us feel comfortable. This is our attempt to say thank you for their kindness.

Mike’s Smile

When we pulled into the parking garage, we were intense. I think it was caused by fear of the unknown.


It was our good fortune to find a parking spot on the ground level very close to the entrance to the hospital. More important than the convenience of our parking place was the reception we received from the parking attendant, Mike. He greeted us with a big smile, and he told us where we would receive the complimentary parking ticket.

Mike’s office space is dark and cramped. He has no impressive letters after his name. He is, in our opinion, one of the most important people we met. He is the gate keeper so to speak and his welcoming way set the tone for our visit.

Thank you, Mike. You give meaning to the words of William Arthur Ward:

A Warm Smile is the universal language of Kindness

Barbara’s Manner

When we entered the admissions office, there was no one in theBarbara_ Image 1a _admissiona_2564 waiting room. In less than a minute, a woman with a pleasant disposition asked us to come into her office. While Kitch searched for her health care cards, Barbara did preliminary work on her computer. Throughout the process, Barbara was polite and respectful. She answered Kitch’s questions, and she offered a few suggestions that would eliminate stress on the day of the operation.

Barbara’s manner and her thoughtfulness made this mandatory stop a pleasant experience.

The words of Francis de Sales best describe our encounter with Barbara:

It is wonderful how attractive a gentle, pleasant manner is, and how much it wins hearts.

Pre-Admission Testing

Several people work in the pre-admissions testing suite, and all of them represent Geisinger-CMC with dignity, class and competence.

Nina_iMG 2__2614

We were greeted by a Nina Barbieri, a registered nurse with extraordinary people skills. She explained the nature of the tests she performed and the reasons why they are important for the procedure Kitch would have.

One of her associates, Angelina, administered an EKG. Then she did the required blood work. Normally this is an agonizing experience for Kitch. Because of Angelina’s skill, it did not bother her at all.

After the blood test, Nina returned to administer a special test that is designed to protect the patient from MERSA.

Before we left the lab, Nina printed a copy of all the information, and she included her name and phone number on the report to enable Kitch to make contact for any help she might need.

While Kitch was behind the closed door of the lab, I made theKathy Patti _IMG 3_2589 acquaintance of one of the most inspirational people I have ever met.

Cathy Sue Loyack is battling breast cancer. She has had three procedures and chemotherapy in six months. She is about to begin her radiation treatments.

Cathy is the mother of two college-age children. When she was diagnosed with cancer in November, she did not tell her children. She did not want to burden them with this information during their final exam week.

Cathy is an optimistic person who lights up the room with stories about gratitude and determination.

On this day, Patti Thomas was her nurse. Patti was a perfect match for her patient.

The memory of the time we spent in pre-admission testing with Nina, Angie, Cathy and Patti lessened our fears and made us feel optimistic about Kitch’s surgery.

We were in caring, competent, empathetic hands. A feeling best described by Walt Whitman:

I do not ask the wounded person how he feels, I myself become the wounded person.

Pictures for the File 

Our next stop was the waiting room in the radiology department. As CSLoyack_2619we crossed the threshold, we were greeted by Cathy Sue Loyack. She was sitting alone in the back of the room. Kitch and I joined her. As you might expect, the two women talked about their experiences with breast cancer. I thought the conversation was liberating for both Cathy and Kitch.

At the appointed time, nurse Heidi O’Brien called for Kitch. Together they made their way to the dressing room where Kitch changed into an appropriate patient’s gown.

In less than 10 minutes, the door opened, and nurse O’Brien held Kitch’s arm as she walked with her to the place where the chest X-ray would be taken.

Another door opened and a man in his mid 40s with the assistanceHeather Image_ 4Radiology_2628 of crutches slowly walked toward the exit. He was intercepted by a woman of a similar age, apparently his wife. She reached out to help him.

Then it happened. She looked down and noticed his sneakers were untied. Without hesitation she dropped to her knees, and tied bow knots to secure the sneakers and prevent him from falling.

While this priceless scene was unfolding, I decided not to violate this beautiful moment by taking a picture, I assure you, this poetic moment of love and service will remain in my heart and mind forever.

As the couple slowly walked away, the door to the X-ray room opened and a smiling Kitch and her nurse appeared.

They entered the dressing room, and the pre-admission testing phase of our visit ended.

Pre-Operation Orientation

At 11:45 a.m., we took the elevator to the fifth floor. That is where five knee surgery patients assembled in the community room to learn about virtually every aspect of the procedure. The session is a central part of the Geisinger Patient Education Program.


We arrived a few minutes early as did one other patient, Lou Palazzi. A college football player, retired teacher and landscaper, Lou was preparing for his fourth knee surgery.

After we finished our conversation with Lou, Betsy Guinan, a registered nurse and assistant to Dr. Harry Schmaltz, walked into the community room. Betsy is the Nurse Navigator for New Steps Joint Replacement Center. She greeted us with a pleasant smile. Kitch had a few questions, and Betsy graciously answered each one.

The other three members of our group arrived. Betsy took her position in the front of the room. She started her PowerPoint presentation, and for the next hour she walked us through every phase of knee replacement surgery.

She emphasized the things that can be done before and after surgery that will help expedite recovery. The topics included: proper nutrition, exercises to strengthen your arms and preparing your Betsy_5_2657home.

More than once she emphasized the importance of pain management, infection control, and hand hygiene.

She told us what we could expect on the day of surgery, what items we should bring to the hospital, and she walked us step by step through the operation.

Included in her presentation were three aphorisms:

“Mobility is your best friend.”

“Good nutrition is essential for a successful procedure.”

“Self motivation is the key to successful surgery.”

Patients and their caregivers were encouraged to ask questions and offer comments. Several were offered, and every question was addressed with respect and practical information designed to help all of the people in the room.

If, as Anne Sullivan once said, teaching is about turning on the light of understanding, Betsy did an excellent job in preparing us for knee replacement surgery.

Blood Counts

One of the things most of us take for granted is our blood. That’s not the case at Geisinger-CMC.

MaryAnn O’Brien is the Blood Conservation Coordinator. She Image 6_OBrien_2667is trained to help patients optimize their blood count. This, in turn, reduces the need for blood transfusions during surgery. According to MaryAnn, blood transfusions are associated with poor outcomes.

MaryAnn offered a number of ways patients can build their hemoglobin before surgery: taking suppliments like iron, Vitamin C, and Folic Acid. She encouraged everyone to eating foods rich in iron and Vitamin B12.

She explained in great detail the benefits of optimizing hemoglobin levels to guarantee a speedy recovery.

Before the session ended, MaryAnn answered questions, and gave each patient three pamphlets and her business card so they could make contact with her if they had any questions before their surgery.

The author and poet Wendell Barry tells us that:

Healing is impossible in loneliness; it is the opposite of loneliness. Conviviality is healing.

Our pre-operation orientation at Geisinger-CMC gives truth to Barry’s words. While we were at the hospital, we became part of a healing community. We were in a friendly environment. Everyone we met understood the anxiety and fear behind our faces, and they called upon years of experience to lessen our pain. They gave us confidence that the surgery would go well, and they assured us they would do everything in their power to help us during our journey to recovery.

Thank you, Mike.
TR_Hard Work_1048

Thank you, Barbara.

Thank you, Nina.

Thank you, Angie.

Thank you, Cathy.

Thank you, Patti.

Thank you Heidi,

Thank you, Betsy.

Thank you, MaryAnn.

Thank you, Geisinger-CMC.

We came to the hospital for pre-surgery orientation. We came home with invaluable information and a mosaic of the Face of America on its best day. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Please provide feedback to: