By Karen Frantz
Dr. Geoffrey Westrich, an orthopedic surgeon who practices in Fresh Meadows, has seen many patients in his life, but one that stands out is a Queens man who was confined to a wheelchair because his hip arthritis was so severe.
“His mother lived upstairs and she was basically bedridden,” Westrich recalled. “He could not see his mother because he could not go up the stairs.”
But the man went to Westrich for hip replacement surgery, and afterward not only was he able to climb the stairs to see his mother, but he was able to help administer her care.
“It changed his life,” Westrich said.
The surgeon, who specializes in arthritis treatment and joint replacement surgery, has practiced at the Hospital for Special Surgery’s Physician Office, at 176-60 Union Tnpk., for the last 17 years as well as at the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan.
And he was recently named as one of the country’s best doctors in this year’s edition of the America’s Top Doctors guide, the fourth time he has been singled out by the annual publication.
“It’s rewarding to know that your work is recognized,” Westrich said in an e-mail. “I usually find out I’m named in the book when a patient or a friend mentions it to me, and it’s always a great honor.”
Westrich grew up in New Jersey and has a medical degree from Tufts University School of Medicine. He completed his orthopedic surgery residency at New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center and a knee fellowship at the Hospital for Special Surgery.
But he was not always on the medical path, having majored in engineering as an undergraduate before going on to medical school.
“I’ve always been interested in building things,” he said. “Even as a child, one of my favorite activities was building model boats and planes.”
He said that background has helped him in his chosen profession as he designs implants for hip and knee replacement.
One of his more dramatic cases involved a woman from Connecticut who was told by five doctors her leg would have to be amputated from the hip after she developed a serious infection following hip replacement surgery. He said she came to the Hospital for Special Surgery and he was able to save her leg.
“It’s just a great feeling to be able to help someone in that way,” he said.
Westrich said he decided to practice in Fresh Meadows because it lets him bring the quality care offered at the Hospital for Special Surgery to Queens and enables patients to avoid making a trip into Manhattan.
“My favorite part of the job is when a patient comes in following knee or hip replacement with a smile on their face because their pain is gone and they can return to activities they were forced to give up because of their arthritis,” he said.
Reach reporter Karen Frantz by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4538.