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Cardiovascular Patient Stories

Carol Jennings’ Story

Carol JenningsSaint Clare’s Dover Hospital was having a free PAD screening. I decided to have it done. Yaque, the technologist, added me on and performed the screening. She saw some plaque and was going to request a prescription from my primary care physician for a full study. Soon after, I had the complete carotid duplex study done and Dr. Park of Saint Clare’s read the results. He said I needed to come to the office that day and meet with him. Dr. Park stated I had about 80% carotid stenosis in the right carotid artery and needed a carotid endarterectomy on the right side. He ordered additional imaging and further pre admission testing. After the CT scan, it was found that I had 75% blockage. I met with Dr. Baratta of St. Mary's General Hospital and the office scheduled me quickly for the procedure.

Being very scared and unsure of my surroundings - I have never been to St. Mary’s General Hospital prior to this - I found the staff to be exceptional! They guided me every step of the way. The nurses were fantastic. The surgical, anesthesia, and recovery room staff were all very caring and compassionate. Once the surgery was completed, I was admitted into the CCU for monitoring during my overnight stay.

I am truly blessed that Yaque added me on. She saved my life.

Officer Pritchard's Story

Officer Jim Pritchard has protected lives in our community for 26 years. So when he experienced cardiac arrest, the team at Saint Clare’s, including surgeon, Barry Lowell, and cardiac rehab nurse, Jan Blanc, went into action saving his life. It was touch and go when Jim arrived at Saint Clare’s Health in Denville. Our emergency and cardiac teams went into action performing CPR while Dr. Lowell cleared the 100% arterial obstruction. Jim felt fortunate that he was treated locally in the cardiac catheterization lab by our award-winning cardiac team, and received the cardiac rehabilitation he needed to recover. The entire team, in turn, feels grateful that Jim has served them for so many years.

Bruce's Story

Dr. Bruce Kahn has a reputation around County College of Morris for being passionate about teaching. It was now his turn to be schooled. Bruce was having a heart attack. He wanted to go to a hospital where his wife worked, but Andrea and Aaron impressed upon him that he didn't have time and should go to Saint Clare's Denville Hospital. Bruce agreed and paramedics sped him here to a successful recovery. Now Bruce looks back at "the most important decisions ever made for me" with gratitude for his quick thinking paramedic team.

Megan Bizzaro's Story

Megan Three months ago, I went to Saint Clare’s Dover Hospital ED because I was feeling some chest discomfort. When all of the tests came back normal, I felt embarrassed, perhaps I rushed off to the emergency department too soon. As a paramedic, I am trained to recognize and treat the signs and symptoms of a heart attack. As a patient, I was uncertain. I did not experience the typical associated cardiac symptoms and I easily explained away the feeling as GERD or musculoskeletal pain. At this point, I wanted to go home. I was gathering my belongings and planning to leave the ED when Pam Trumbull convinced me to stay overnight for observation.

The next day, the repeat bloodwork and ECG was normal. The cardiologist, Dr. Singh, came to see me and suggested a nuclear stress test. After the stress test, I was planning to go home but Dr. Singh recommended a diagnostic cardiac catheterization. I was transported to Saint Clare’s Denville catheterization lab where Dr. Shen discovered I had a 100% blockage of the left anterior descending artery and 80% blockage of the right coronary artery. The next day I was transported to St. Mary’s catheterization lab where Dr. Shen placed three cardiac stents.

The scary part is I had absolutely no idea that I was sick! They call the blockage I had the widow maker and my Saint Clare’s family saved my life!

I thank God that Pam convinced me to stay overnight and that Dr. Singh sent me for the diagnostic cardiac catheterization. Dr. Shen was absolutely amazing. She put my mind at ease and I had total confidence in her. Pam Trumbull, Susan Friel and Allen McFadden took great care of me in the emergency room. Erin and the telemetry staff were very attentive and caring. The SCTU staff, Terry Jenkins, Tracy Kiley, Kyle Rowe, Richard Bartlett and Sean D’Amico were spectacular. They made the transition between Dover, Denville and St. Mary’s effortless. Hildi and Beth took great care of me in the CCU. The staff at Saint Clare’s catheterization lab, Linda Montes De Oca, Emma Kielblock and Dennis Rivera eased my fears and took the time to explain everything to me. The staff at Saint Mary’s catheterization lab were incredible. Michael Rivera, Michael Nguyen and Hilena Pachucki reassured me that everything was going to be alright. I can’t thank them enough! Currently, Sandy, Danielle, Lisa, Taylor and Maryann in cardiac rehab are helping me on my journey back to health.

I am now feeling great and back to work doing the job I love. It is very apparent that the staff at Saint Clare’s and Saint Mary’s are dedicated to providing the very best care. I thank them all from the bottom of my heart.



Barbara's Story - NJ Law Must Be Changed

For All Our Sakes...New Jersey Law Must Be Changed!

An antiquated law denies New Jersey patients access to cardiac care at their local community hospitals and needs to be changed, for all our sakes. In fact, New Jersey is one of only two states that do not allow elective angioplasty procedures in their local community hospitals.

Barbara’s Story:

BarbaraBarbara T. had chest pains. Saint Clare’s is the closest hospital so when the ambulance arrived, she asked to be transported to the hospital that was less than 18 minutes away. “When I got there, they did an EKG and compared it to my last EKG and they said that there was a significant difference, so I needed a catheterization,” said Barbara. This was Monday. On Tuesday morning the catheterization was performed, and they discovered blockages in her arteries. At least one stent was needed and “since this was not an ‘emergency’ procedure I would need to be transported to Morristown.”

Morristown was unable to fit her into their schedule until Thursday at which point she was transported, an additional catheterization was performed, and the stents were implanted. She was finally released on Friday.

“I had quite a lot of pain. It was pretty upsetting to know that I had to hang around and wait to go to Morristown to have them put these stents in,” said Barbara. “This was very uncomfortable and upsetting situation and I don’t know why I could not have had the procedure done right away.”

Cardiac patients must travel out of their local areas and familiar surroundings to facilities that perform open heart surgery for a procedure that is consistently performed at Saint Clare’s on an emergency basis.

Ironically, seven years previously Barbara also had chest pains and was sent to Saint Clare’s where she was diagnosed with a heart attack. In that case an immediate catheterization and stent were able to be performed at Saint Clare’s. The contradiction in cardiac care is mind boggling for Barbara.

“Because I didn’t show any cardiac arrest, they said I could wait. Had I gone into cardiac arrest while waiting I would have been able to have the emergency procedure at Saint Clare’s.”

Obviously cardiac issues run in the family because in 2012 her son, who was 40, had chest pains and went to Saint Clare’s. This was at 8:30 in the morning, and at 6:30 in the evening he had to be moved to Morristown. “Fortunately, he only had to wait 12 hours while I had to wait two days. I don’t understand the concept. It’s not fair to the patient to be putting them through this,” said Barbara.

Saint Clare’s Health is a CMS Five Star rated and an award-winning provider of safe, high quality, compassionate care serving the communities of Morris and Sussex Counties. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Five Star rating is based on 100 rigorously tested quality measures at more than 4,000 Medicare certified hospitals as well as Veteran Health Administration and military health systems. Saint Clare’s is also a Leapfrog A-rated hospital for patient safety multiple times.

It is regarded in the top 10% of the nation for coronary intervention procedures and a Five Star recipient for pacemaker procedures. The list goes on and on about the third-party recognitions this local community hospital has received in the areas of cardiac care.

Despite all of these third-party recognitions and others, an outdated law prohibits Saint Clare’s cardiac patients from receiving elective angioplasty at their local hospital.

New Jersey is out of step with 48 other states, including Pennsylvania, New York, and Delaware that allow their community hospitals to perform this lifesaving procedure. The irony is that it can be performed on an emergency basis when conditions are even more severe. Forcing cardiac patients to travel out of their local areas and familiar surroundings to major facilities that perform open heart surgery for a procedure that is consistently performed at Saint Clare’s on an emergency basis makes no sense.

It’s time for this contradiction in care to be corrected. Scientific data and a state-funded study all validate the effectiveness of elective angioplasty in a community hospital, yet New Jersey patients continue to face a limited choice and delayed care.

Barbara’s dad is 102 years old and naturally has heart issues. He lives eight minutes away from Saint Clare’s, but “I worry that when his time comes to be rushed to an emergency room Saint Clare’s will still not be authorized to do stents,” said Barbara. “He lives 30 minutes away from Morristown. It’s a little scary for us to know this.”

It’s’s time for the New Jersey legislature to right this archaic wrong. Contact your State Assemblyman and State Senators and tell them to put patients first and pass A3769 and S2427.

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