Referred to as “the pediatrician’s pediatrician” by those in the Pittsburgh medical community, Dr. Paul C. Gaffney began his studies as the University of Pittsburgh, completing his residency in pediatrics at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, followed by a fellowship in hematology at Children’s Hospital of Michigan. Upon his return to Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, Dr. Gaffney frequently received referrals from other specialists, not only for patients with hematologic issues but for a wide variety of pediatric concerns, particularly for children with complex medical issues.
As a pioneering pediatric diagnostician, Dr. Gaffney assumed many roles over his career at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, including acting chair of the Department of Pediatrics, medical director of Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, and associate dean of admissions at the School of Medicine. His commitment to outstanding clinical practice, education, and service is the cornerstone upon which the Division of Pediatric Hospital Medicine was built.
As Dr. Gaffney’s academic pursuits grew in the late 1970s, he recruited additional faculty to continue his clinical work in pediatric diagnostics. Dr. Thomas Gessner, Dr. Holly Davis, Dr. J. Carlton Gartner, Jr., and Dr. Basil Zitelli met the growing demand for consultative services for Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. Following Dr. Thomas Starzl’s launch of the country’s first liver transplant program in 1981, Dr. Gartner and Dr. Zitelli led the field in post-operative medical management of pediatric liver transplant recipients, garnering international recognition for their efforts. Dr. J. Jeffrey Malatack and Dr. Andrew Urbach joined Drs. Gartner and Zitelli in the 1980s as the liver transplantation program evolved and the group’s inpatient and ambulatory responsibilities continued to expand. Informally referred to by the eponymous acronym ‘GZMU’, the group established one of the first outpatient clinics in the country dedicated to caring for children with complex medical needs as well as providing diagnostic evaluations for challenging clinical cases referred from local pediatricians and family medicine physicians.
(From left) Dr. Sara McIntire, Dr. Carl Gartner, Dr. Basil Zitelli, and Dr. Andrew Urbach, September 15, 2017.
For over fifteen years, they carried on the work of Dr. Gaffney, joined by Dr. Sara McIntire in 1990 and Dr. Sylvia Choi in 1998, among several others. In 2001, under the guidance of a new department chair, Dr. Zitelli was appointed as director of the group, then formally titled the Diagnostic Referral Service. In addition to a bustling inpatient service and outpatient referral clinic, they oversaw resident continuity clinic and provided other robust educational experiences for medical students and residents. Since then, the division has recruited over twenty new members, each with unique academic pursuits, and all with the shared values of Dr. Gaffney.
After forty years of unparalleled dedication to the care of children and the education of the next generation of pediatricians, Dr. Zitelli retired from clinical practice in 2018, though remains very active in the academic activities of the division. In honor of his work, the weekly case presentation given by the residents and attended by members across the Departments of Pediatrics was renamed as Zitelli Rounds as he continues to share his immense fund of knowledge as its moderator.
Zitelli and Davis’ Atlas of Pediatric Physical Diagnosis
Early in his early career at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, Dr. Zitelli was approached by other specialists about a project involving the collection and publication of valuable diagnostic images in pediatric patients as a reference. Given that the most popular and most consulted text, the Index Medicus, contained no images, Dr. Zitelli saw the project as having significant educational and clinical impact for the field. In collaboration with Dr. Holly Davis, a pediatrician well-respected and well-loved throughout her career in advocacy and pediatric emergency medicine, Dr. Zitelli spent several years gathering images from his own practice and across the hospital.
Despite heavy clinical demands stemming from the recent establishment of the liver transplantation program at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, Dr. Zitelli and Dr. Davis published the first edition of their work in 1986. Notably, the cover of the first edition was pink, so as to provide a subtle distinction apart from the commonly colored medical publications of that time. It has become widely regarded as an essential pediatric medicine textbook, now in its 7th edition, available in many languages, and has expanded to include multimedia and web-based content. Dr. Zitelli views the contributions to the Atlas by many faculty at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh to be one of the most vital elements of the publication.