The Southern California Society for Surgery of the Hand has a rich and storied history. It started out quite modestly however in approximately 1980. Dr. Charles R. Ashworth who was Chief of Hand Surgery at USC ( past president of the American Society for Surgery of the Hand from 1985 -1986) and Dr. Roy A. Meals ( past president of the American Society for Surgery of the Hand 2003 - 2004) who was the Chief of the Hand Surgery at UCLA at that time, discussed instituting a meeting of local hand surgeons as a way to share information and learn from visiting speakers. Through the 1980s, Dr. Meals orchestrated sporadic meetings by sending out announcements to members of the American Society for Surgery of the Hand as well as to anybody in the greater Los Angeles area that professed interest in hand surgery. Two to four times a year, the group would gather at the UCLA Faculty Club for drinks, hor d'ouerves and a presentation. Early local speakers included Drs. Garry Brody and Milan Stevanovic. Out-of-area speakers included Drs. Richard Smith, Larry Schneider, Richard Gelberman and Warren Briedenbach. Dr. Myles J. Cohen was an energetic and busy hand surgeon in West Los Angeles with an academic appointment at USC. According to Dr. Meals, Dr. Cohen would regularly send in his money to attend and then have a last-minute conflict precluding his participation. Dr. Meals would later jokingly chide him that he was the greatest in absentia supporter of the club. Ironically then, Dr. Cohen took the club to the next level.

After entering into a discussion on this topic in 1991 with Dr. Randolph Sherman, who was the Chief of Plastic Surgery at USC, Dr. Cohen felt the LA Hand club should be more inclusive of hand surgeons in the greater Southern California region. His vision was that the society should foster a sense of collegiality and afford a venue for hand surgeons in the community to meet socially. Dr. Cohen arranged for the meetings to be held at the Jonathan Club in downtown Los Angeles. Dr. Ashworth was asked to be the first president with Dr. Meals as the vice-president. Norman P. Zemel of the Kerlan-Jobe clinic was installed as secretary while Dr. Cohen was elected treasurer. Hand surgeons from Los Angeles County, Orange County, Ventura County, Riverside and San Bernardino County were invited to join. The meeting consisted of a cocktail hour for catching up with friends, followed by dinner and a scientific presentation or journal club. There was no formal visiting speaker program at that time, but visiting professors who were in Los Angeles for other reasons were invited to present talks at the LA Hand club depending upon their availability.

Dr. Ashworth tragically passed away in 1994 and Dr. Meals ascended to the presidency. Dr. Zemel was installed as the vice-president. Dr. Cohen continued on as treasurer. In this capacity Dr. Cohen continued to keep a membership list, collect dues and co-ordinate the dinner arrangements at the Jonathan Club. In 2001 Dr. Meals proposed holding a vote to establish a formal Hand society. The measure was passed by majority vote of the members and the Southern California for Society for Surgery of the Hand was established, with a formal charter and set of bylaws outlining membership criteria and the duties of the officers (see bylaws link). Dr. Meals step down to serve as the President of the American Society for Surgery of the Hand in 2003 and Dr. Zemel took over as president. This governing structure has continued to the present day although a member-at-large position was established by the council in 2006.

From these humble roots the Southern California Society for Surgery of the Hand has grown to include over 60 dues paying members with 30-40 core members who attend the quarterly meetings on a regular basis. As a society the SCSSH sponsored it's first scientific meeting that was open to the public as a Crucial Elements in Hand Surgery course in 2005 in collaboration with the American Society for Surgery of the Hand (see SCSSH course link). This successful course featured 22 presentations by members of the SCSSH. Plans are under way for the 2nd course, to be held at UC Irvine in November 2007. Under the direction of the governing council, a bi-yearly social program was added, to allow spouses and friends to attend. The membership has strongly opposed any industry support by unanimous vote. A formal visiting speaker program has been in place since 2003, using membership dues to provide air travel and accommodations along with an honorarium. Myriad prominent hand surgeons from across North America have presented at our meetings since that time (see speaker list page). Journal club is still held on an annual basis. Since 2003 a prize has been awarded to the most clinically relevant paper in the Journal of Hand Surgery (see Journal club link) after a usually stimulating and vigorous discussion by the majority vote of the attending members.

The SCSSH continues to grow, with exciting and ambitious plans for the future which include difficult case presentations, a pearls and tips presentation and a possible regional scientific meeting.
Nov. 23 2007
Hand Surgery Update
UC Irvine