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Hospital welcomes award-winning surgeon to Onslow Surgical Clinic

Written by Jennifer Mackenzie

Precision. Excellence. Patient-focus. Someone comfortable being both a specialist and a generalist, having the ability to make a seamless shift between attending to patients wanting planned, elective surgeries, and those that come through the Emergency Department doors needing immediate intervention.

– In looking to expand the surgical team, those were the qualities sought by Dr. Timothy Patselas, lead surgeon at Onslow Surgical Clinic.

Now, Onslow Surgical Clinic and Onslow Memorial Hospital (OMH) are pleased to announce that Dr. Gary Belzberg, an award-winning surgeon with nearly 30 years of experience, has expertly filled the role. “Dr. Belzberg is a tremendous addition to our surgical group,” Dr. Patselas says. “Belzberg is like a Ferrari; he’s a top-of-the-line surgeon who’s already hit the ground running.”

Before relocating to North Carolina, Dr. Belzberg, who specializes in gastrointestinal surgery, was a partner at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center/South Bay and a clinical instructor of surgery at the Harbor/UCLA Medical Center, both in Torrance, California. He received his medical degree from Marquette University (now Medical College of Wisconsin) after a bachelor’s in chemistry from Chapman College.

While he flourished for many years at Kaiser, Dr. Belzberg began to search for a community hospital that was “less top-down management, more patient-focused” as well as one where he could perform a diversity of surgeries.

Still, he says, “It was a leap of faith.” After numerous conversations with Dr. Patselas, as well as OMH’s past CFO, the late Roy Smith, he was ready to make that leap. “I started out at a county hospital, and it’s the kind of place that I love. So in a way, I’m returning to my roots,” Dr. Belzberg says.

Dr. Belzberg has two sons, Michael, 18, and Daniel, 16; the eldest enrolled in the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 2018. Like his dad, Michael has his Private Pilot License (PPL).

For Dr. Belzberg, flying a plane is, in a way, “very similar to surgery. You’re so focused at the task at hand that the time goes by without you even noticing, and that’s something that I find very relaxing.” He owns a 1967 Beechcraft Bonanza, a six-seater, single-engine aircraft that he fondly calls his “one and only money pit.” (Given the length and breadth of Belzberg’s career in medicine, it’s only fitting he owns the plane that has been in continuous production longer than any other airplane in history.)

When asked what he loves about being a surgeon and how he’s been able to sustain an almost three-decade career, Dr. Belzberg doesn’t hesitate:

“It’s the ability to make a difference in patients’ lives. To really navigate life with each patient, to see how you can give them more comfort, and therefore maybe more enjoyment out of their life. The goal is to make the right choice for each individual, whether that ends up including surgery or not – that’s what we mean by patient-focused care. As a team, we want the patient to have options, including surgical excellence available to them right here at OMH. I’m thrilled to be a part of this group.”