(Courtesy of SMGH) Today we have a follow-up interview with a patient who had double-bypass, open heart surgery at St. Mary’s General Hospital after she came in for one procedure and ended up with something far more serious.1 AND she still wants to alert females to be very cautious and proactive with your healthcare. George Matyjewicz, PhD, community liaison, will be doing the interview:
George: Good morning. Your surgery was a year and a half ago, which was quite a scare for you and your family. How are you feeling now?
Patient: B”H, I am doing very well and back to my normal self—working full time, enjoying Shabbat with family and friends and walking a lot with our dogs.2
George: Wonderful news! How about giving us a brief summary of what happened?
Patient: I had hip replacement surgery three months earlier and as part of the pre-testing procedure we learned that I had lupus anticoagulants3 and I was susceptible to blood clots. Thankfully, that surgery was successful, and I recovered nicely.
Then a couple of months later I saw my general practitioner and said that I felt a strange sensation in my chest some nights before I went to bed. So, she ordered a CT scan looking for a blood clot. The report showed no clots, but it showed a blockage of the arteries to the heart, which I questioned. A few days later I saw the hematologist and asked her to look at the report. I asked if I should be seeing a cardiologist and she said yes, and arranged an appointment for me.
George: So, the cardiologist then said you needed surgery?
Patient: No. He didn’t think there was any major issue. Nonetheless, to be doubly safe, he did send me for a CT scan with contrast. The next day, the cardiologist called and said that my calcium score should be 32 and mine was 973. So he arranged for a cardiac catheterization, which he scheduled to be done in the Cath Lab in St. Mary’s General. With this procedure we learned that two arteries had serious calcium blockage that he could not penetrate, which meant that I would need double bypass open heart surgery. And it should be done as soon as possible.
George: So you scheduled the surgery right then?
Patient: No, I was actually considering waiting until year-end processing was over at work. We spoke with the director of the cardiovascular lab, and asked her about surgeons. She told us about Dr. Vinay (Avi) Tak, who she said was wonderful, with excellent bedside manners and could explain things very clearly without scaring the patient. And his background here and in Scotland was quite impressive. (My son did background checks and verified his qualifications.) She said Dr. Tak was on his way to the hospital, so we waited to meet him and discuss the procedure.
Dr. Tak came in, spoke with the director and read my chart. He talked with us, asked questions and explained the procedure. He then said, “The procedure should be done as soon as possible, so I am scheduling you for tomorrow.” Now that shocked us, and after feeble attempts at why I should wait, we decided to go ahead. B”H, the surgery was successful, as were follow-up treatments, and now I am back to myself again.
George: By the way, this patient is my wonderful wife, Phyllis, Perel bas Devorah, who gave us quite a scare, and now, B”H, she is back to normal!
Lesson to Be Learned
There is a lesson to be learned here, that Phyllis wants to emphasize with all females, and that is to take an ACTIVE ROLE IN YOUR HEALTH CARE, ESPECIALLY YOUR HEART. If you have pain in your chest, see a doctor, and don’t rely on pain relievers. And question your doctor if you believe that a diagnosis given doesn’t sound like it resolves your concerns, or maybe there is something else in the test results that is being overlooked. If you see something in your tests or records that seems a bit wrong, or is not discussed, question it—demand more testing or get another opinion.
And she still raves about the excellent care that she received at St Mary’s General. “The staff was wonderful and took care of my every need—general and halachic—and closely monitored me. Many people asked why I didn’t go to one of the cardiac hospitals in New York City or another hospital in New Jersey. Why? I had confidence in the care at St. Mary’s and was impressed with Dr. Tak and also, our dear friend Dr. Elliott Samet, z”l, was on staff there (and visited me every day).
St. Mary’s is part of Prime Healthcare, which has more Patient Safety Excellence Awards for five consecutive years (2016-2020) than any other health system in the country including a “Top 15 Healthcare System” by Truven Health. Believe me, I had my son the lawyer do a complete check on them! As far as I am concerned, St. Mary’s General Hospital is the best in New Jersey and among the top hospitals in the country. In spite of what some people may try to say otherwise—they are living at least seven years in the past!
George: So, there you have it, folks. Trust me, Phyllis speaks her mind and doesn’t say things because I am affiliated with St. Mary’s General. And our son, as an attorney, does background checks to assure us that everything is kosher. His firm4 consults with hospitals and healthcare facilities throughout the country.
Prime Healthcare has been named “The Fastest Growing Hospital System” in the country by Modern Healthcare and is a unique physician-founded and physician-driven health system with doctors and clinicians leading the organization at every level. Healthgrades has recognized Prime Healthcare hospitals with more than 300 achievements for clinical excellence in a variety of specialties, including more Patient Safety Excellence Award recipients for five consecutive years (2016-2020) than any other health system in the country.
To learn more about Prime Healthcare’s cardiology services or to schedule an appointment, call 973-576-5320 or visit https://heartnj.primehealthcare.com/
For more information, please contact George Matyjewicz, PhD, Community Liaison at [email protected]
2 South African Boerboels: Mufasa (200 lbs) and Sarafina (154 lbs)
3 A type of antibody produced by your body’s immune system that attacks healthy cells and cell proteins.
4 Senior Vice President, Marsh USA Inc. and specialist with Marsh’s Healthcare Center of Excellence. Updates colleagues nationwide regarding emerging legal issues during monthly national call.