Action for Distraction 5K Family Fun Run - getting gaming consols for kids at Morristown Memorial Hospital
                    The Docs Who Made A Difference
We cannot thank, or recommend, the following doctors enough:  This is their contact information, but read on to see what makes them so special!

                                                      Dr. John Freiheiter
                                                  16 Old Brookside Road
                                                      Randolph, NJ 07869
                                                            973-895-8884

                                           Dr. Barbara Minkowitz, COSM-C
                  Medical Director of Pediatric Orthopedics at Atlantic Health                                                     
                                                     261 James St, Ste. 3C
                                                    Morristown, NJ 07960
                                                             973.206.1033

                                    Dr. Michael Vitale, Orthopaedic Surgeon
                                          Columbia Presbyterian Hospital
                                                          (212) 305-4565

                                                            Brian Ireland 
                                                 Benefit Physical Therapy
                                         Chester & Bridgewater Locations
                                                             (908) 879-5700

After 2 years in and out of the hospital starting in December of 2010, Zach is doing better than anyone expected!  But he had an uphill battle, as his ailments were so uncommon that there wasn't even a treatment protocol for them.  It took a talented team of doctors to diagnose him correctly, and to really hear what was happening with him.  Without the group that we were fortunate enough to have landed upon, Zach's outcome may have been very different.  We owe them so much, and can't speak their praises enough ...

Dr. John Freiheiter

To date, Dr. Freiheiter has saved two lives in our immediate family since we became patients.  He inherited Zach as a patient early in December of 2010, when we couldn't get an appointment for him with his regular pediatrician.  Zach had a simple case of bronchitis.  Little did Dr. John know that that first visit was going to be the easiest one he'd ever have with Zach.  It was later that month that Zach had to be taken to Morristown with (what we would find out) was a very rare septic hip infection.  Despite his short time with Zach, it took a simple phone call to his office for him to figure out what was going on, even after a trip to a local hospital emergency room and an orthopedic doctor came up empty.  He even came back early from his vacation to visit Zach in the hospital after his emergency surgery to remove the infection .... something we never would have expected from his pediatrician.  But it goes so much further ... Dr. John wasn't satisfied with the idea that Zach just randomly got a septic hip infection ... especially since the way he presented wasn't traditional ... he dug deeper, and got answers.  And 9 months later, when Zach started limping, and I had already taken him to the orthopedic doctor twice, he LISTENED to me when I said something was wrong ... and he ordered blood work, and found out that something was, indeed, wrong, and sent me to Dr. Minkowitz at the Children's Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Center to get answers.  Zach's whole future is different because Dr. John paid attention and CARED.  Now, our whole family uses him as our primary care physician, and just this past October, he saved my life.  I had already been to a local hospital with severe pain  in my abdomen radiating up my neck, and was sent home.  Still in tremendous pain, I managed to make it to Dr. Freiheiter's doorstep. It took him less than 5 minutes with me to realize I had a perforated bowel, and immediately have me taken to Morristown Medical Center in an ambulance, where they were able to perform life saving surgery.  I'd recommend him to anyone who asked (and even those who don't).
Specializing in the field of Internal Medicine / Pediatrics, Dr. Freiheiter is prepared to practice both internal medicine and pediatrics (often abbreviated as "Med-Peds"), providing ongoing and comprehensive medical care for those of all ages by drawing on training in both medical specialties. Dr. Freiheiter is able to provide care in a family context, utilizing vast knowledge in both fields to provide a unique spectrum of care.

Dr. Barbara Minkowitz

After Zach's bloodwork came back with a high CRP and SED rate, Dr. Freiheiter sent us to see Dr. Minkowitz, informing us that the WORST case scenario was that Zach had Avascular Necrosis.  While possible after the surgery Zach had for the septic hip, it was highly unlikely, especially since the diagnosis is made based on an x-ray that would show deterioration of the hip, and we had just had one done.  But Dr. Minkowitz did another x-ray, and as it was loading onto her screen, she immediately knew that it was exactly what Zach had.  She even cross-referenced earlier x-rays, and saw the condition present in them, even when other doctors had missed it.  Because of her, we got Zach off his feet immediately (she wouldn't even let us out of the office without the order for a wheelchair), and salvaged what was left of his dying hip.  While we were still in her office, she set up an appointment for us to see Dr. Michael Vitale at Columbia Presbyterian ... one of the only orthopaedic surgeons in the world  specializing in AVN in kids like Zach ...  to give Zach his best chance at recovery.  

The Medical Director of Pediatric Orthopedics at Atlantic Health, Dr. Minkowitz holds degrees from Columbia University and New York Medical College. She received her orthopaedic training at Maimonides Medical Center, and pediatric orthopaedic training at Shriner's Children's Hospital in Minneapolis, with a pediatric orthopaedic fellowship at the Scottish Rite Children's Hospital in Atlanta. As a board certified pediatric orthopaedic surgeon, she has published both clinical and academic papers for which she has received international, national and regional awards, as well as several research grants. Dr. Minkowitz holds staff positions at Morristown Memorial and Overlook Hospitals. Dr. Minkowitz has been in practice for nearly 20 years.

Dr. Michael Vitale
Dr. Vitale saw Zach on Dr. Minkowitz's recommendation, and provided us with the only alternative to Zach sitting in a wheelchair for the next 6-9 months.  He is one of the only surgeons in the world doing a surgery to place an external fixator on the hip, attached to the body with 3 metal pins going into the thigh, and 4 in the hip, literally pulling it apart so that while the hip bone heals, no additional weight is put on it, salvaging the round shape of the femoral head as much as possible.  Zach had the device on from October 8th, 2012 until March 26th, 2013 (not that we were counting), and it was a brutal six months... but Zach's hip is now doing better than even Dr. Vitale had hoped!  We owe Zach's mobility to his expertise, and his calm demeanor that got me down from a ledge when I begged to have the device removed in December because of the pain it was causing Zach.  He knew it was the best thing for him ... and he couldn't have been more right!  

Michael G. Vitale, MD, MPH, specializes in the nonoperative and operative treatment of children with complex spinal problems.   He has a special interest in the treatment of Early Onset Scoliosis including use of the Vertical Expandable Titanium Rib Device (VEPTR) and growing rods.  Dr. Vitale also performs complex limb reconstruction surgery of the lower extremity for problems such as Blount's disease, leg length differences, and malunions of bones. As director of the Pediatric Orthopaedic Research Group, Dr. Vitale leads the clinical research team in their efforts, which is often funded by multi-year grants, and published in leading medical journals, as well as presented at national and international conferences. He has authored numerous original manuscripts and textbook chapters on the treatment of scoliosis. As a member of the Board of the National Chest Wall and Spine Deformity Study Group, he participates in multicenter studies aimed at improving the care of young people with scoliosisDr. Vitale believes in improving the quality of life for all children with orthopaedic problems. He has been advocating for children globally through the Institute of Medicine, as well as the Pediatric Orthopaedic Society of North America; and recently traveled to Haiti to help young earthquake survivors.

Brian Ireland PT, DPT, OCS, Cert MDT, CSCS








Last, but certainly not least, is Brian Ireland from Benefit Physical Therapy.  We had brought Zach to see Brian when his initial diagnosis was wrong, and the doctor ordered more physical therapy (which was the OPPOSITE of what Zach needed), and after watching Zach move, Brian suggested that we might want to have him looked at for Avascular Necrosis, which is really amazing if you consider how few kids Zach's age have anything like it.  It turned out, Brian was right, and he was 1,000,000% the right therapist for Zach.  When Zach first came home from the hospital with the fixator, he wasn't mobile enough to leave the house, so we had to have a home-therapy service.  In truth, they had no idea what to do with Zach, and admitted to never having actually seen anything like what he had drilled into his body.  As soon as we were able to transport Zach, we took him back to Brian ... his place is 10 minutes away, and the first couple of months, it would take us an hour to get there, trying to maneuver Zach in and out of the car ... but it was worth it.  Brian is the kind of guy who would be waiting outside for me to help me get him out of the car.  The amount of pain Zach was in made him a little hard to deal with, but Brian never lost his cool or gave up.  He pushed Zach to his limits, teaching him how to walk again ... and somehow, got Zach to look forward to the painful therapy sessions. I will never forget that it was in late December, about when I was begging Dr. Vitale to take the bar off Zach's leg before it destroyed our whole family, that Brian told me he would have Zach walking UNASSISTED by January.  If you had asked me then, I'd have told you Brian was crazy.  It turns out, he was just that good ... 

Brian received his Doctorate in Physical Therapy from the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, is a Board Licensed therapist in the State of New Jersey, and received his Bachelors of Science degree in Biology with a Minor in Chemistry and Sport and Exercise Science from Messiah College. He has continued his education post professionally by becoming Certified in Mechanical Diagnosis and Therapy (Cert MDT) from the McKenzie Institute of America, by becoming a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) from the National Strength and Conditioning Association, and is certified to perform The Functional Movement Screen by the The Functional Movement Screen Board of Certification.  Finally, Dr. Ireland has attained his Orthopedic Clinical Specialist certification (OCS) becoming board certified by the American Physical Therapy Association.  The OCS is the preeminent distinction a therapist can attain in Orthopedic Physical Therapy acknowledging their advanced expertise, clinical knowledge, competence, skills, and commitment to their profession. Throughout his years of experience as both a Physical Therapist and Personal Trainer Dr. Ireland has worked with numerous patients and clients of all age groups with different fitness/rehabilitation goals ranging from senior citizens looking for improved balance and endurance to professional athletes looking to get back into their highly competitive sport better then when they were first injured.
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