Friday, October 8, 2010

MGH hosts president of Latvia

A presidential visit: From left, Zarins, Pildegovics, Zatlers and Rubash

Hundreds of clinical and research fellows train at the MGH each year and go on to achieve great things in their careers. One former fellow, who trained in the MGH Department of Orthopaedic Surgery in the early 1990s, is the current President of the Republic of Latvia Valdis Zatlers. An orthopaedic surgeon, Zatlers trained with Bertram Zarins, MD, who today is chief emeritus of the MGH Department of Orthopaedic Surgery's Sports Medicine Service.

On Sept. 28, Zarins and the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery's Sports Medicine Service hosted a visit for Zatlers and Latvian Ambassador to the United States Andrejs Pildegovics. The visit included a tour of the Sports Medicine Center and a reception in the Dinesh G. Patel, MD, Arthroscopy Learning Laboratory. The event featured remarks from Zatlers, Peter L. Slavin, MD, MGH president, Harry Rubash, MD, chief of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery and Zarins.

Slavin welcomed guests and provided an overview of the hospital, followed by Rubash, who described the history of the Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, emphasizing the innovations and accomplishments of its staff members over the years. Rubash presented Zatlers with a diploma in recognition of his MGH fellowship. Zarins, also a native of Latvia, then described his work to help advance health care in his home country, including his establishment in 1989 of the First Latvian World Congress in Medicine, where he first met Zatlers; his collaboration with Zatlers to bring arthroscopic surgery to Latvia for the first time in 1991; and his role in establishing the Latvian Medical Foundation.

At the close of the event, Zarins announced the creation of the first Zatlers Travelling Arthroscopy Fellowship and introduced its inaugural recipient, Eriks Ozols, MD, an orthopaedic resident from Latvia. The fellowship is one of many funded through the Latvian Medical Foundation and made possible by longtime MGH supporter Norman Knight, who also attended the event.

"President Zatlers has not forgotten the time he spent at the MGH as a young doctor, and we are honored he came back to visit us," says Zarins.

Adds Rubash, "In the United States, we are pleased to have both a senator and a congressman who are orthopaedic surgeons -- but to have an orthopaedic surgeon as the president of a country is truly amazing. We are delighted to begin the annual Zatlers Fellowship in honor of President Zatlers' numerous contributions to the world stage and for his fine work as an MGH fellow."

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