More than 470 dignitaries, residents and friends gathered together from not just the United States but also three continents to pay tribute to Dr. Michael John Patzakis’s 21 years as USC’s Chairman of the Dept. of Orthopaedics. He has been a member of the USC Keck School of Medicine’s Orthopaedic Department for 43 years.
Speakers at the event included USC President Max C.L. Nikias, Keck School of Medicin Dr. Dean Carmen Puliafito, Patriarch Athenagoras Orthodox Institute Director Metropolitan Nikitas, Dean of Saint Sophia Cathedral Rev. Father John Bakas and professor and chairman of Greece’s orthopaedic department Dr. Konstantine Malizos.
Both Dr. David Thordarson and Dr. Nick Halikis served as the emcees. Speakers Dr. Paul D. Holtom and Dr. Caroline Mossessian talked about Dr. Patzakis’s honesty, integrity and commitment to doing what is right.
There were many surprise tributes and gifts, but one that was particularly special was a battle ensign that had flown over the NATO Role 3 medical treatment facility in Kandahar, Afghanistan, which was personally escorted to Pasadena. The encased flag was given to Dr. Patzakis in recognition of his support of the U.S. Navy, mentorship and friendship shown to the crew of the Navy Trauma Center at the L.A. County and USC Medical Center.
Especially meaningful to Dr. Patzakis were the words spoken of him by his four children: Michele, Theresa, John and Peter, who spoke touchingly and amorously about their father. Guests were treated to an opera interlude by Metropolitan Opera star Richard Bernstein.
Dr. Patzakis received his B.A. and M.D. degrees from Ohio State University, where he was president of Alpha Epsilon Delta, the national health professional honor society. After completing his internship and orthopedic residency at the Los Angeles County and USC Medical Center, he completed a fellowship in arthritis surgery at the University of Colorado and then joined the USC faculty. In 1991, he became the Chairman of the Department of Orthopedic Surgery, the largest orthopedic department in the U.S. at that time. His faculty are leaders in their specialty areas of orthopedic surgery and serve as team physicians for the USC athletic teams.
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