A Tale of Two Hearts

Cardiac patients share their unique healing experiences at Parrish Medical Center

Every day inside Parrish Medical Center (PMC),loving care partners—employees, physicians and volunteers—dare to dream, believe and achieve a life-changing mission: healing experiences for everyone all the time. Remarkable stories of compassion, courage and healing moments are experienced each day inside this healing hospital. Here are two of our favorites.

A Heart Attack Stopped Cold

For Eileen Byrne, her journey started when she was relaxing at home.

“I started feeling funny one night and thoughtit was indigestion, but it didn’t go away, so my roommate drove me to the emergency department[ED],” Byrne says. “When I told them in the ED I had chest pain, they whisked me away and in a matter of seconds I was hooked up to a monitor and a Code STEMI was called.”

When a Code STEMI is called for someone with a possible heart attack (also known as a myocardial infarction, or MI), the Code STEMI team goes into action. The team includes a cardiologist,nurses and technicians. Within seconds,10 people surrounded Byrne’s bed in the ED.Some were monitoring her vital signs and some were giving her medication. Then they asked her if she was ready to go.

“Go where?” Byrne asked.

“To the cath lab for a cardiac catheterization,”replied Biju Mathews, M.D., the Code STEMI cardiologist on call that evening.An MI is the death of heart muscle from the sudden blockage of a coronary artery by a blood clot, and Byrne had a 100 percent blockage in her heart. But because of the quick,excellent work of the Code STEMI team, within45 minutes of entering the ED the blockage was completely removed.

A New Perspective

After she had been out of the hospital about three weeks, Byrne started cardiac rehab at the Parrish Heart & Health Village. The rehab helped build her energy and ensure her heart stayed working the way it should. Byrne was back at work within two weeks of her heart attack and is doing well, but it might have ended much differently if not for the quick Code STEMI response from the ED care partners.

Byrne says she looks at her customers in the café differently now. “Working in the Atrium Café, I’d see many of the employees during the week who took care of me in the ED,” she says.“They’d say hello and chat, but I really had no idea what they did at PMC. I never realized how PMC’s mission—healing experiences for everyone all the time—would come into play in my life in such a dramatic way.“

I was truly amazed at the teamwork that took place from the time I entered the ED and told them I had chest pain all the way through my stay at PMC until I went home,” Byrne continues.“Everyone who helped, from the ED to ICU to fourth floor, was compassionate, patient, soothing and caring. Everyone did their job in a calm,professional manner and they always made sure I knew what was going on at each step.”

A Serious Health Condition Revealed

Roberta Chaildin, PMC human resources manager, just thought she was tired because of stress. She didn’t think it was anything to worry about. “I was a little achy and just didn’t feel well,” she says

That thinking could have killed her.

In late 2007, Parrish Medical Center first introduced HeartAware©, a quick, online heart health assessment. The online risk assessment included a more in-depth consultation with a heart health specialist.

“That probably saved my life,” Chaildin says.“I had always been in fairly good health with no major problems, but during the additional consultation I learned my blood pressure was dangerously high and my cholesterol was also quite high.”

Disaster Averted

If she hadn’t taken the HeartAware online assessment and consultation, Chaildin would have been on track for a stroke or heart attack in the not too-distant future. Now, more than a year later,Chaildin’s blood pressure is under control and her cholesterol is well within acceptable limits.

“It wasn’t easy and it didn’t happen overnight,”Chaildin says, “but I started taking medication for my high blood pressure and made some lifestyle adjustments, like changing my eating habits and exercising more frequently. It had just been a few months since I’d had my blood pressure checked so I was caught completely off guard when it was so high. HeartAware really did save my life.”

BYRNE AND CHAILDIN ARE not only former PMC patients, but they are also PMC care partners.Having both experienced and lived through PMC’s mission, they bring a unique perspective to their healing work.But, as both these women can attest, all PMC care partners are dedicated to a life of service and each takes to heart the PMC mission—to provide healing experiences to everyone all the time.