The core of his identity
Dr. Patrick J. Fazzari was a dedicated physician for fifty years. He began as a Pediatrician and then evolved into Rehabilitation Medicine. Over the course of his career he helped thousands of patients of all ages and backgrounds; he would often recount stories, especially from his earliest years of training, of babies and children with disabilities. Each person, with his or her own unique challenges and personal story left an imprint on Dad, and certain memories stayed with him a lifetime.
Dr. Fazzari's Philosophy
"Tell me your story"
The practice of medicine was our father's true vocation and, in essence, the core of his identity.
One particular experience informed how Dad engaged with patients. Meeting a man who spoke limited English, he asked, “What brought you here today?” And the man responded literally, “A bus.” From that day forward, Dad modified his opening question to a request, “Tell me your story.” Later the statement simply became, “Tell me.” He believed that patients, in their own words, would confide insights ultimately leading him to the diagnosis and solution. He would spend hours listening empathetically to fully understand the patient and the problem - a hallmark of his care.
Now, fast forward and picture Dad as the patient. Over the past few years, Dad was cared for at Georgetown University Hospital Center, which is a teaching hospital. Medical students were always part of the care experience, often the first to take his patient history. Inevitably, the student would ask Dad, “What brought you here today?” and Dad would smile and share this story. The medical students were always inspired and swore they would change their approach. One student, lacking a piece of paper, took notes on his hand to capture Dad’s sage advice. Just this fall, Dad had started to outline a second book he planned to write, the working title, “Tell Me: Teaching Medical Students How to Listen.”
Dad adored caring for children – always a pediatrician at heart – but invested his care in all: young, old, performing artists, athletes, celebrities, the chronically ill and disabled, and those for whom Dad was their last hope. One patient reminded Dad of his own father. Mr. Perciballi was an electrician who had been bounced around the medical system, at risk of losing his livelihood because no doctor took time to understand his pain. Dad became his staunch advocate, diagnosing his injuries, acknowledging his emotional distress, and restoring his dignity.
Dad’s philosophy of care blended best medical practices with compassion and faith in the human spirit.