While a resident in Surgery at the Massachusetts General Hospital in the early 1980s Dr. Katlic cared for several hundred-year-old surgical patients and retrospectively reviewed the records of several others. All six survived operation and enjoyed life for one or two years, one even taking an around-the-world cruise and returning to lecture at a local college. He published these results (“Surgery in Centenarians”) in 1985 in the Journal of the American Medical Association
This paper was seen by a reporter for the Associated Press and paragraphs were placed in newspapers around the world stating that surgery could be performed safely in centenarians. One such story in the Baltimore Sun caught the eye of a publishing house editor, Charles Mitchell, who called Dr. Katlic to ask whether a textbook on surgery in the elderly was needed. Five years later, in 1990, Geriatric Surgery: Comprehensive Care of the Elderly Patient was published. Subsequent books, Principles and Practice of Geriatric Surgery editions I and II, were published in 2001 and 2011 with co-editors Dr. Ronnie Rosenthal and Dr. Michael Zimmerman and Cardiothoracic Surgery in the Elderly in 2011.
In 1990, when that first book was published, no organized group of geriatric surgeons existed and the list of chapter authors was composed of a large subset of those willing to consider this label; many went on to produce their own texts and to remain active in this nascent area of knowledge. In 1994 the American Geriatrics Society inaugurated the Geriatrics for Specialists Initiative, championed by the late Dr. Dennis Jahnigen of the University of Colorado Center on Aging. The GSI transitioned in 1998 into the Section for Surgery and Related Specialties, now termed the Section for Enhancing Geriatrics Understanding and Education, or SEGUE. In 2004 the American College of Surgeons started its Task Force on Geriatric Surgery.
Still, no institution had focused attention on Geriatric Surgery in a comprehensive, systematic, multidisciplinary way. No Center for Geriatric Surgery existed.
When Dr. Katlic arrived as Sinai Hospital’s new Chief of the Department of Surgery in July, 2011, his concept of a Center for Geriatric Surgery---simmered over three decades of study in this area---was embraced by all: the forward-thinking Board of Directors, Chief Executive Officer Warren Green, President Neil Meltzer, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Daniel Silverman, all Chiefs of Departments, Nursing, and many others. The Center became reality.