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Joseph Gelmis

Brooklyn, NY
  • Joseph Gelmis in the photo 1
  • Joseph Gelmis in the photo 2
  • Joseph Gelmis in the photo 3

The most dramatic accounts of successful operations at Hospital for Special Surgery involve patients whose recovery empowered them to resume strenuous physical activities.

At 80, I’m a spectator rather than a participant in sports or the performing arts. Nonetheless, I share with all of these patients a common bond: Gratitude for relief from unendurable pain. The physicians and staff of HSS gave us back a life worth living.

When my wife drove me to the hospital, I had been in chronic pain for three sleep-deprived months. When she picked me up three days later, after Dr. David Mayman replaced my right hip, I was already pain-free and on my way to full recovery.

It had taken three months to learn the actual cause of the pain. I was away from home. And the initial diagnosis by a local doctor, based on an MRI, was that a spinal deformity was crushing a nerve. Since steroids and anti-inflammation drugs weren’t suppressing the pain, he advised prompt exploratory surgery at a nearby hospital.

I was aware my spine was a column of damaged discs and spurs from 40-odd years of deadline journalism hunched over typewriters and computers. But I wanted a second opinion. So I returned home. And, mercifully, got the authentic diagnosis from Dr. David Goddard, the astute rheumatologist who’d been treating my occasional spinal issues.

As an investigative reporter and media critic, I’d spent my career not only gathering facts but recognizing excellence. I did the research and settled on HSS.

From among the hospital’s elite roster of surgeons I chose Dr. Mayman. He’d replaced both hips of a family friend who was enabled in his 40s to ski and play tennis again. I am indebted to Dr. Mayman - to his confidence-instilling clarity in discussing the state of his art, and then his flawless craft in the operating room.

And I share with other grateful HSS patients the awesome experience of the hospital’s unique holistic process. At a time when corporate culture too often reduces institutional interactions with customers, clients or patients to frustrating bureaucratic transactions, HSS is a systemically integrated, efficient, humane template to which all self-respecting organizations should aspire.