George Gazis

03/08/2019

What initially brought George Gazis to Texas Orthopedic Hospital was a shoulder injury. What has kept him coming back is the consistently high level of care he has received.

Over the past 16 years, George has undergone six orthopedic surgeries at Texas Orthopedic Hospital, performed by five orthopedic specialists from the nationally recognized Fondren Orthopedic Group. In total, he has seen nine doctors affiliated with Texas Orthopedic Hospital for surgical and nonsurgical treatments. And he is probably the hospital's biggest fan.

Three successful shoulder surgeries

George, 60, a self-employed general contractor who specializes in home remodeling, says the physical nature of his business takes a toll on his body. In 2002, he injured his right shoulder on the job. "For a year, I couldn't get an accurate diagnosis," he says. "Finally, I was referred to orthopedic surgeon Thomas Mehlhoff, MD. Working with a physical therapist, Dr. Mehlhoff identified the cause of my problem -- a full thickness tear in my right rotator cuff - during my first visit. He performed surgery to repair my rotator cuff, and soon I was back in business."

In 2015, George reinjured his right shoulder and returned to Texas Orthopedic Hospital, where orthopedic shoulder specialist T. Bradley Edwards, MD, performed minimally invasive arthroscopic surgery to repair a full thickness tear in his right rotator cuff and a partial tear in his bicep. The minimally invasive procedure minimized George's pain and shortened his recovery time.

In 2017, George was back in Dr. Edwards' office, this time for an injury to his left shoulder caused by years of wear and tear. Dr. Edwards diagnosed a full tear in his rotator cuff and a partial tear in his bicep. He performed the repairs arthroscopically.

Knee injections and total knee replacement

George's active lifestyle growing up - which included playing baseball as a catcher for nine years, playing tennis and golf, and riding dirt bikes - was hard on his knees. In 2013, suffering pain in both knees, George saw orthopedic sports medicine specialist Hussein Elkousy, MD, who diagnosed a condition known as pigmented villonodular synovitis (PVNS), a joint disease characterized by inflammation and overgrowth of the joint lining, in George's left knee. Dr. Elkousy performed a minimally invasive arthroscopic surgical procedure known as a synovectomy on his left knee and administered injections in both knees to reduce swelling, inflammation and pain.

After a fall on the job in 2017 led to a reinjury of George's left knee, Dr. Elkousy referred him to orthopedic joint replacement specialist Vasilios Mathews, MD, who prescribed a total knee joint replacement. On the day after Christmas 2017, Dr. Mathews replaced George's knee joint with a prosthetic one. The surgery was a success, and after a single night in the hospital, George was released to go home.

George attributes his swift recovery from his knee surgery - and from all his orthopedic surgeries performed at Texas Orthopedic Hospital - to a combination of his surgeons' skills and to his own willingness to fully participate in physical therapy. "I am a strong believer in physical therapy. After each of my surgeries, my doctor has given me a pep talk and a timeline for recovery. By doing the work, I have always beat their estimates."

Corrective foot surgery

From the time George was a child, he suffered from foot problems caused by an abnormally long second toe. For most of his life, he managed his symptoms, which included pain in his shins and lower back, through prescribed orthotics (inserts in his shoes) but was told he would eventually need corrective surgery. When that day came, in 2009, Texas Orthopedic Hospital was not in network for his insurance, so he underwent surgery elsewhere.

"I asked around and found a doctor who was considered the 'foot orthopedic guru' in Houston. He performed what should have been relatively straightforward surgery, but it did not go well. I suffered for five months until, thankfully, my insurance situation changed, and I was able to see orthopedic foot and ankle specialist David Loncarich, MD, of Fondren Orthopedic Group. He performed revisional surgery at Texas Orthopedic Hospital, and within a month I was back on my feet and pain free."

Non-surgical treatments

One of the things George says he likes about the physicians affiliated with Texas Orthopedic Hospital is that they don't always default to surgery. When George picked up an antique desk in a client's home in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey and felt something "pop" in his back, Dr. Mathews referred him to spine surgeon Ryan Stuckey, MD, who prescribed physical therapy and referred George to interventional spine physician Michael T. McCann, MD. Dr McCann administered transforaminal treatments for inflamed spinal nerves in George's spine to help relieve his pain. Over the years, George has also received injections in his right hip and shoulder from physicians at Texas Orthopedic Hospital and has been prescribed in-home exercises.

Non-orthopedic diagnosis: thyroid tumor

Not all of George's diagnoses at Texas Orthopedic Hospital have been orthopedics-related. A series of tests ordered by Fondren Orthopedic Group spine surgeon Jeffrey Kozak, MD, to determine the cause of George's neck and shoulder pain revealed a 2 cm tumor on George's thyroid. George had seen an endocrinologist just two months prior and nothing had been detected, but the tumor, while benign, was fast growing. Based on the diagnosis, George underwent removal of his thyroid (a thyroidectomy).

"If it weren't for Dr. Kozak's diligence and persistence in trying to diagnose my neck and shoulder problem, this tumor would have gone undiagnosed, at least for a while, and that could have been a real problem," says George.

Since that time, the Fondren Orthopedic Group welcomed staff endocrinologist Yomna Monla, MD, whom George now sees three times a year. Of Dr. Monla he says, "I am extremely satisfied knowing I have someone who understands what I have gone through, with both my thyroid and orthopedics. I also appreciate how she, like so many of the doctors at Fondren, is willing to take the time to discuss my issues and concerns, as opposed to just getting me through my appointment as quickly as possible."

"This hospital is their home."

As a small business owner, George believes one of the things that sets Texas Orthopedic Hospital apart is the fact that the hospital is partially physician owned and partners with Fondren. "My clients know they can trust me in - and with - their homes. For these doctors, this hospital is their home. They're very particular about who they bring in to care for their patients, very careful with their referrals," says George.

George also likes the way patients are treated by the hospital staff. "Everyone is so helpful and friendly. I have never met a rude person there. The CEO walks around, checking in on patients. My mom had her knee replaced there, and she went on and on about the food being so good. It is. It's just a great place."