Posts Tagged ‘Scranton Orthopaedic Specialists’

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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America at Its Best: Kitch’s Physical Therapy, Part 4

Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

America at Its Best: Kitch’s Physical Therapy Begins, Part 4.

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

There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting
people up. John Holmes

First Steps At Home

Physical therapy is an essential part of the recovery process for knee replacement surgery patients. Five words best describe this process: “There is no easy way.”

Kitch began her in-home physical therapy treatments 16 hours after she left Geisinger-CMC in Scranton.

To be honest, the highlight of our first day home from the hospital was a visit from Judy Cutler and Leigh Bales.

Judy Leigh1a_4605

Judy is a manager at CareGivers America in Clarks Summit, PA. Leigh is an experienced physical therapist who had recently become a member of the CareGivers team of professionals who offer quality home health and hospice services.

From the moment our eyes met, the air was filled with positive energy created by the caring, respectful, and thoughtful demeanor of Judy and Leigh. They know exactly how to make the patient and the caregiver feel at ease, and they also have a well thought out strategy for the patient in their care.

Judy explained her role as a supervisor observing a new employee. Leigh explained the goals of this orientation session:

First she would record all of the data required by state and federal regulations.

Judy Leigh1_4605

Then, she would do a site assessment to guarantee the safety of the patient.

The final item on the agenda can best be described as information sharing. She would help us better understand exactly what to expect in the seven sessions that would follow. Essentially she gave us a blueprint of the next two weeks.

Then she went to work carefully entering the answers Kitch gave to her questions on her laptop computer. When she finished the patient history questions, she checked Kitch’s blood pressure and her range of motion. She told Kitch she would check her Coumadin levelsJudy Leigh2_4605 regularly. Coumadin is essential to successful recovery. It helps to prevent the formation of blood clots.

When that was finished, Judy, Leigh and Kitch went on a tour of the rooms Kitch would be using every day. They checked for ease of access and anything that might be an obstacle for a person using a walker.

During the tour, they observed Kitch using the walker. When they returned to the living room, they talked about ways to manage pain. They also explained the proper way to do the mandated exercises.

They encouraged Kitch to eat nutritious meals and drink a lot of water. They assured her that every day the swelling in her knee would go down.

Judy Leigh3a_4605

Everything was done in a supportive and understanding way. They recognized that the first few days of physical therapy might be difficult, but they assured Kitch they would do everything they could to diminish her discomfort and expedite her return to walking without assistance.

As I watched Judy and Leigh work with Kitch, I thought to myself they have a great gift. They know how to connect with both the patient and the caregiver. For them, this was more than a job, and Kitch was more than just another number in a file. While they were in our home, Judy and Leigh made Kitch feel like she was their only patient. They were not rushed, they were considerate. They were not distracted, they were focused. It was all about helping Kitch and giving her the assistance she would need to make tomorrow a better day.

Before they left, I took Judy and Leigh on a short tour of our garden. When we reached one of the focal points in the garden, I askedJudy Leigh3_4605 them to stand in front of the Angels of Freedom for a picture. As I focused the picture, I thought about the irony of this moment. The 40 angels in the background represent the heroic sacrifice these heroes made for their country. The two angels in the foreground are heroes of a different but equally important kind.

The words of Senator Paul Tsongas apply:

America is hope. It is compassion. It is excellence. It is valor.

These 12 words are a perfect description of Judy and Leigh. They personify America at its best because they give people hope with their compassionate care and their excellent knowledge and practice of the techniques of physical therapy. In so doing, they enable their patients to confront the obstacles they encounter on their road to recovery with courage.

Thank you, Judy.

Thank you, Leigh.

Thank you, Caregivers America.

Thank you, Scranton Orthopaedic Specialists.

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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.

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