Young Heart Attack Survivor Thanks Mercy Health for Saving Her Life – A Second Time

Monica LaMadline

Monica LaMadline was just 11 months old when her life was saved at Mercy Health the first time. She was admitted to the Emergency Department with what turned out to be meningitis. “She was crashing and seizing. The care team didn’t think she would make it,” recalled Susan Benton, LaMadline’s mother. Preparing for the worst, she quickly requested to have her daughter baptized by the Mercy Health priest who brought in holy water and prayed over Monica. “When he said ‘Amen,’ she stopped seizing.”

Nearly four decades later, LaMadline, 39, of Whitehall, found herself back at Mercy Health with another life-threatening condition.

“I had been dealing with bronchitis and a terrible cough. After visiting an Urgent Care office, the doctor determined it was a respiratory lung problem, so I went back home to rest and relax. Then, all of a sudden, I was walking downstairs to visit with my family and it felt like something in my chest had slammed shut,” said LaMadline.

With the bronchitis diagnosis, Benton figured her daughter had exerted herself too much that day and was feeling the effects of the respiratory condition. However, she realized things with her daughter’s health were escalating quickly — and in the wrong direction. “One minute she was fine. Next thing I know, she was laying on the floor drenched in sweat. I called 9-1-1, but the call dropped.” Luckily, Benton was able to connect with the 9-1-1 dispatcher, and they sent help immediately.

The paramedics arrived, did an examination and performed an emergency EKG. Immediately they could tell this was not a symptom of a respiratory condition. LaMadline was having a heart attack. The paramedics quickly transported her to Mercy Health Mercy Campus for treatment.

“Once they saw the EKG – that’s when things escalated. The siren went on and we drove really fast. I was in a lot of pain,” said LaMadline. “One of the main things I do remember from the ambulance ride was (that) they were calm when I was anxious. That gave me a calmness as well.”

LaMadline, left, hugs her mom, Susan Benton in appreciation

After arriving at the Emergency Department, Benton met with David Bonnema, MD, interventional cardiologist for Mercy Health Muskegon. “We weren’t in the ER but ten minutes and Dr. Bonnema came up to us to explain that he would be providing Monica’s care. What a jewel he is! We can’t even tell you how much we love him,” she explained. “By the grace of God, he was already working right in the ER at the time they brought Monica in. She would’ve died within minutes had there been a second or two lost somewhere along the way. We were all in the right place at the right time.”

Benton recalls, “After Dr. Bonnema left, we moved down to the waiting room. Part of me was still thinking, ‘This is nothing. She’s going to be fine.’ But the nurse came out and explained that Monica had experienced a massive heart attack. I was in shock…I didn’t want to believe it. I was thinking this can’t be a heart attack – she’s so young!”

LaMadline had significant blockage in the left descending artery. Bonnema explained that her condition – known as the Widow-maker heart attack – is one of the deadliest. ” What happened to her could have had a tragic outcome,” he stated. She was then taken to the Intensive Care Unit to be monitored.

Regarding her daughter’s care at Mercy Health, Benton explained, “She just had the best nursing care. I’m a big critic, as I’ve worked here for a very long time and I’m an LPN. Everyone was extremely professional, but also so compassionate and nice.” LaMadline echoed, “Nurses have the toughest job. They never, ever made me feel like I was an inconvenience or a bother. They were so kind to me – each in different ways – which made it very personal. From the nurses to the environmental services staff, techs and the care assistants – they all treated me with respect and kindness. We always had what we needed.”

LaMadline with Dr. Bonnema

“I’ve seen Dr. Bonnema many times since my ER visit. I’ve also done cardiac rehab at the Heart Center. I love West Shore Cardiology. They are so on top of things. A lot of doctors don’t have that compassion, but when you talk to Dr. Bonnema, you feel like you’re important and that that he truly cares. The first thing he said to me is…’I’m so glad to see you. I’m so glad you’re alive.'”

Bonnema attributes LaMadline’s comeback to the talented care team at Mercy Health. “I am very pleased with the excellent outcome that Monica is able to enjoy. Her results are secondary to a fantastic team effort. I am very proud of the accomplishments of the Mercy team.”

Before she was discharged from the hospital, LaMadline received information about cardiac rehab, diabetic education and was offered opportunities to take various classes and learn how to live a better, healthier life.

“At the Mercy Health Heart Center, you’re provided these classes in order to learn. Before I left the hospital I was completely set up and understood what to do. They made me feel like I was a member of the family, and that they truly care about me – not just while I was in the hospital, but through my entire recovery,” said LaMadline.

Benton shared, “They cared for her like they she was their own. It’s not just one person or one department. It’s everyone coming together to make the patient care experience the best in the world.”

For LaMadeline, Mercy Health is something even more. “I think everybody loves Mercy Health because it’s home. It’s just home.”

For information on Mercy Health’s Comprehensive Heart program, please visit https://www.mercyhealth.com/medical-services/heart-and-vascular/heart/

 

 

 

 

Mercy Health Saint Mary’s Earns Magnet® Re-designation in a Unanimous Decision by the Magnet Recognition Program Commission

One of Only 13 Hospitals in Michigan to Currently be Recognized as Magnet

In a unanimous decision by the Magnet Recognition Program® Commission of the American Nursing Credentialing Center, Mercy Health Saint Mary’s in Grand Rapids, Michigan, has earned re-designation as a Magnet hospital, receiving notification on June 25, 2018. The organization first earned its Magnet designation in May 2013.

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Nearly 100 nurses and hospital leaders gathered to listen to the findings from a representative of the Magnet Recognition Program Commission. During a call with Brian Selig, DNP, MHA, RN, NEA-BC, Magnet Recognition Program® Commission Executive Committee Member, the hospital was showered with praise, citing six exemplar areas in which the hospital exhibited that demonstrated excellence beyond Magnet standards and the positive presence and visibility of nursing leadership.

“While we are one of only 13 hospitals in the state to currently achieve Magnet designation, I am equally impressed with the ‘little’ things that each of our colleagues does on a daily basis to advance the mission and profession of nursing,” said Bill Manns, President, Mercy Health Saint Mary’s in a congratulatory email to all of Mercy Health Saint Mary’s staff on Monday, June 25.

Magnet designation is not an award, rather it recognizes nursing excellence. According to American Nurse Today, “It is the highest and most prestigious distinction a health care organization can receive for its nursing excellence and high-quality patient care. With only 8% of U.S. hospitals earning the Magnet designation, it’s clearly the gold standard.”

Magnet recognition is valid for four years.

Living Our Values: Reverence

Earlier this summer, during a Safety Huddle*, Nursing Supervisor Valerie Stray informed leadership that a patient in her unit was dying and that the family had limited time to spend with their loved one. The construction noise of drilling and hammering was disruptive to a somber experience, and Stray wondered if something could be done to shift or stop construction.

“There is always someone on Mercy [Health] staff who can call and let us know we have to stop construction because there is ‘a situation,’ and we don’t need to know what the situation is,” said Amy Sullivan, senior project manager, The Christman Company. “While what we do is very important, it’s not as important as what’s happening on the other side of the wall. There are people’s lives in the balance, and they deserve respect.”

Gary Allore, president of Mercy Health Muskegon, and Lon Morrison, senior director, facility services and capital projects, didn’t hesitate to say they’d ask for construction to stop. Construction was halted within the hour, allowing the family to say goodbye and begin to process their loss.

The quiet was a gift to the family and to the staff during that emotional time.

“I know that each construction delay affects the entire process, which is why it meant so much that whatever comfort we could give to that family became a priority over construction goals,” said Stray. “When we call ourselves ‘Mercy,’ we bear all the responsibility that name implies.

On that day, as on so many others, our health care organization lived up to its name — with mercy and reverence toward our patients and their loved ones.

*Definition of Safety Huddle (Source: Greenville Health System): A brief meeting (e.g., “huddle”) of hospital leaders and key team members at the beginning of the day or shift to build teamwork through communication and cooperative problem solving while ensuring common understanding of the focus and priorities for the day.

Congratulations to Gary Detweiler, PA-C, from Sparta Health Center

Gary Detweiler, PA-C, was recently voted one of the People’s Choice winners in the health care providers category by local publication River Valley Shopper for Montcalm, Newaygo and North Kent County. He has been with the Sparta Health Center, a community benefit ministry of Mercy Health, for more than 20 years.

“Gary is one of the most kind, warm and generous people I have ever met,” said Jeffrey Lodholtz, Sparta Health Center’s practice leader. “This recognition by the community is very well deserved.”

Congratulations, Gary.

Playing It Safe in the Summer Sun

Summertime is all about fun in the sun and promoting spiritual health by getting outside to commune with nature. However, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation, one in five Americans will develop skin cancer, the most common type of cancer in the United States, and one dies of skin cancer every hour.

With the beautiful weather and days spent outdoors at the park, the beach and the golf course, your skin may be getting more sun exposure now than at other times of the year.

While you’re enjoying the great outdoors, it’s important to be aware of how much sunlight you get. Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is the main cause of skin cancer and can also cause damage to your eyes. For these reasons, avoiding overexposure to UV light is the simplest form of prevention.

Here are some simple steps from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to help prevent overexposure to UV rays:

  • Seek shade, especially during midday hours
  • Cover up with clothing to protect exposed skin
  • Wear a hat with a wide brim to shade the face, head, ears and neck
  • Wear sunglasses that wrap around and block as close to 100 percent of both UVA and UVB rays as possible
  • Put on sunscreen with broad spectrum (UVA and UVB) protection and sun protective factor (SPF) 15 or higher
  • Avoid tanning beds and sunlamps – the UV rays from them are as dangerous as the UV rays from the sun

You can also schedule a skin examination with your health care professional, including your primary care physician (PCP), to catch early signs of cancer before they become a serious threat.

Getting annual physicals and tests from your doctor is key in sustaining your health and preventing disease. Having a PCP who can coordinate your care is vital to your good health. A PCP typically specializes in family medicine, internal medicine or general practice.

If you don’t have a PCP, finding one is easy! Just visit your insurance carrier’s website, look for the “find a doctor” area and follow the instructions.

Mercy Health is committed to providing resources that promote well-being though body, mind and spirit and is dedicated to helping you live a healthy life.

The Truth Squad

Mercy Health’s Continuous Improvement Through Two Patient Advisory Councils

Mercy Health is an organization with a sacred commitment to placing patient needs first, often referred to as patient-centered care.

Part of the Patient and Family Advisory Council in Muskegon

So it is no surprise that in both Grand Rapids and Muskegon, patients have been invited to become members of patient councils that offer practical advice and feedback to leaders in the organization. In each location, council members — who are volunteers — and Mercy Health staff are invited to propose topics for each council’s discussion and feedback.

In Grand Rapids, the Mercy Health Physician Partners Patient Advisory Council (PAC) consists of members who meet bimonthly. In Muskegon, the name of the overarching council is the Mercy Health Patient and Family Council (PAFC), which meets monthly. Both councils have generated their share of innovative ideas that have led to positive changes at Mercy Health.

The MHPP Patient Advisory Board in Grand Rapids

With honest discussion and respect for each member’s point of view, productive dialogue results, especially since members participate due to their passion for quality health care and for making their community “the best.”

What follows are two tangible examples — one in Muskegon and one in Grand Rapids — of how council members have improved customer service in their communities. Mercy Health is grateful for the tireless  support and enthusiastic participation of all dedicated council members.

 

 

 

Development of the Patient Notepad in Muskegon

Muskegon’s Patient and Family Advisory Council member Dan Maiden

A charter member and chairperson of the Patient and Family Advisory Council (PFAC), Dan Maiden knows Mercy Health well. His wife is employed by Mercy Health, and he personally experienced a barrier to care that resulted in emergency surgery.

With that event behind him — and a positive outcome from the surgery and hospital experience — Maiden was happy to join the council, which was being formed by Mary Carlson, director of service excellence and facilitator of the PFAC,  to give patients more input regarding care at Mercy Health.

“Members were invited to find a way to improve the patient experience by giving patients more of a voice,” said Maiden. “Being able to offer the perspective of a patient in some of the strategies and practices in our health care system is rewarding, especially the patient notepad project.”

In 2015 the council discussed how to improve communication between hospital patients and their physicians and nurses, and in the end, the group came up with a concrete solution: the patient notepad.

 

 

The Patient Notepad in Muskegon

“Often when you’re in the hospital you’re anxious,” said Maiden. “If you have a way to collect your thoughts when you’re not anxious and later be able to have a conversation with your physician based on the notes you’ve made, the outcome will be better.”

The council wanted to keep the notepad very simple, so it didn’t get lost among the items near the bedside.

“We piloted it first on one floor at Mercy Hospital, with the help of the Process Excellence team, before offering it to all inpatients. Staff tell us that patients use it often, and patients have mentioned that it is an effective bedside tool that gives them more ownership in their health care.”

Mission accomplished!

 

 

 

Making the Wait More Pleasant in Grand Rapids

Patient Advisory Council member Alli Metz

Patient Advisory Council member Alli Metz continues to be amazed that her suggestions for patient waiting areas became reality. They were incorporated into Mercy Health’s Rockford facility in 2013, which was being built at the time.

Her ideas came from a trip that Metz had taken with her young daughter while waiting during a layover at LaGuardia Airport in New York.

“The airport had just redesigned their waiting areas, which made our stay much more pleasant. Even with a young child, the time flew by. I’ve spent a lot of time in waiting rooms for personal and family medical appointments, so I noticed the innovations immediately and thought about how they could be used in medical facilities,” said Metz.

One of the first changes she saw was how the seating was arranged for passenger comfort first — and no longer looking like “a bus terminal.”

There were small groups of chairs arranged so people could face each other; café-style seating with high tables and chairs; seating around desk-level tables for people who wanted to spread out and work; as well as individual seating in traditional rows. In addition, Metz was delightfully surprised by how the designers included “plenty of electrical plugs for phones, computers and tablets.”

Could such ideas could be incorporated into waiting areas at hospitals and doctor’s offices in the future? Metz wondered.

Patient Advisory Council Facilitator Teresa Dittmer personally passed along Metz’s ideas to leaders who were involved in the design of a new Mercy Health facility in Rockford.

 

 

It wasn’t too late to incorporate Metz’s innovations into the plan for the building, and within a couple of months of making her suggestion, Metz learned that Mercy Health’s patient waiting area in Rockford would feature her ideas!

“Change is usually so slow. It was wonderful to see how quickly change could happen. Once it opened, I actually went to see the waiting area with my husband,” she said.

Patients, family members and visitors now enjoy the “vibe” at MHPP Rockford. The varied seating arrangement gives people a sense of both community and personal space. People can face each other and have a conversation or sit at a table to complete paperwork, rather than use a clip board.

 

Ask anyone — it’s not just millennials who appreciate the Wi-Fi and outlets with USB charging ports that were incorporated into the facility’s design. Adolescents and children who are waiting for parents and siblings enjoy these innovations too.

As a college professor, Metz values innovation, creativity and changing with the times. She has remained on the council because it truly is about putting the needs of the patient first…just like Mercy Health.

Best of a Bad Situation: Breast Cancer Survivor Encourages Women to Take Charge of Their Own Bodies

As a breast cancer survivor, Barbara Harvey advises women to “take charge of their own bodies,” and has inspired many friends who have experienced health issues.

One in eight American women will hear in her lifetime that she has breast cancer. When Barbara Harvey, 67, received her diagnosis in July 2017, she describes it as “The best of a bad situation.”

Diligent about receiving mammograms, Harvey had also experienced lumps in her breast previously, so she wasn’t especially concerned when the hospital called her back for a biopsy to test a lump detected in her left breast after a mammogram on June 29, 2017.

However, the biopsy revealed that the lump was malignant, but the good news was that her cancer was Stage I, and it hadn’t spread beyond the breast. Surgery and radiation were required, and Harvey was scheduled to see a surgeon, but she was urged by her friends to seek a second opinion.

“My feeling was, ‘It’s my body; I want to decide who’s cutting into me,‘” said Harvey.

So Harvey arranged for a second opinion with Jamie Caughran, MD, FACS, fellowship-trained breast surgeon and medical director of Oncologic Surgical Subspecialties, Mercy Health Lacks Cancer Center, less than a week after her biopsy.

Before meeting with Caughran for her consult, Harvey brought along a friend who works in the cancer field, who told her, “We can still meet with the other surgeon. Don’t feel like you have to make a decision today.” During the consult, according to Harvey, Caughran explained the process “perfectly, so that I felt completely comfortable with everything that was going to happen.”

 

Barbara Harvey and her daughter.

Harvey was impressed and decided to not even meet with the other surgeon. She had her lumpectomy scheduled on July 19 with Caughran, who was going to utilize a device, called BioZorb, which helps lumpectomy patients in two ways: It acts as scaffolding on which to rearrange breast tissue for better aesthetic outcomes, and it also includes internal markers to improve accuracy of radiation treatment. Both fellowship-trained breast surgeons, Caughran, and Jessica Keto, MD, have been using BioZorb for lumpectomy patients for nearly two years at Mercy Health Lacks Center, the only cancer center to use BioZorb in West Michigan.

Radiation oncologists also appreciate the benefits of BioZorb. “BioZorb facilitates our ability to be very targeted with radiation during a typical whole-breast radiation treatment course,” said Brandon Mancini, MD, MBA, medical director, Radiation Oncology at Mercy Health Lacks Cancer Center. “We are able to significantly reduce the amount of radiation that a woman’s normal breast tissue, chest wall, and even her skin receives, which improves safety for our patients and reduces potential treatment-related side effects.”

During the lumpectomy, Caughran removed the tumor and some surrounding tissue to ensure that no cancer cells were left behind — equaling the size of a ping pong ball — and also took out four lymph nodes, which all “came back clean,” said Harvey, which indicates that the cancer most likely did not spread to any other part of her body. A BioZorb device was placed in Harvey’s breast to maximize her cancer treatment and cosmetic results.

“My recovery from surgery was no problem,” said Harvey. “You really cannot tell any difference between my left and right breast, thanks to Caughran’s skill.”

Harvey then began 19 radiation treatment sessions under the expert care of Mancini during the late summer of 2017. Thanks to her overwhelming support system, during each radiation treatment, Harvey covered herself up with a handmade quilt, which has a story of its own.

Close-up of quilt that Harvey’s friends made for her that she wore during her radiation treatments at Mercy Health Lacks Cancer Center.

Upon hearing of her breast cancer diagnosis, dozens of friends and family members each decorated quilt squares that spoke to Harvey of hope, peace and power. Friends who didn’t live in town even emailed their inspirational phrases to her friend creating the quilt to be included.

“I wasn’t nervous during my treatments at Lacks,” recalled Harvey. “Everything happened very quickly; I had the best care and support from my care team and from my family and friends. I have just dealt with everything one day at a time.”

Now on the other side of her treatment, Harvey still goes back in to Lacks Cancer Center for routine check-ups and takes a daily endocrine therapy pill to reduce her risk of breast cancer recurrence.

“‘You are in charge of your own body,’ I tell my friends, many of whom are also suffering from health issues, including breast cancer,” said Harvey.

Thanks to this attitude, Harvey spreads hope and courage to others who may be facing difficult life circumstances. “I could either be pushing up daisies or smelling them,” said Harvey. “I’d rather be smelling them!”

 

Emergency Departments Combine Doctors and Nurses into One High-Functioning Unit

In preparation of the move into the new medical center in Muskegon, doctors and nurses from the Emergency Departments at Mercy and Hackley campuses in Muskegon are working through barriers and beginning to see each other as partners and family through ongoing change management efforts.

The Nursing Units: Adversaries Become Allies

In the beginning they seemed as divided as Michigan and Michigan State fans.

“They didn’t even sit on the same side of the table. Each wanted to do it their own way,” recalls Hackley Nurse Manager Marquette Marsman about the first meeting between Hackley ER Nurses and Mercy ER Nurses. “It took about two hours to get through that.”

That was over six months ago.

Since then, the seemingly immovable opponents found their common ground: providing the best care for the patient. “The biggest strength of the group is that it’s not about them, it’s about the patient,” says Michelle Bierman, director of Clinical services, Critical Care, Emergency and Trauma for Mercy Health Muskegon. Once that was established, both sides began to meld. Bierman says conversations now focus on how the nurses can pull both teams together and they willingly accept each other’s ideas.

“Now it’s: Let’s do it your way; that sounds better,” Bierman says with a smile.

Michelle Bierman (left) and Sherri Passenier (right) coaching one of their colleagues

Monthly meetings have brought not only a sense of unity among the ER nurses, but a sense of pride in the new, state-of-the-art Emergency Room they are about to share. “We went from wanting everything stocked in the supply rooms, to wanting to be cost effective and leaner,” said Sherri Passenier, nurse manager for Mercy Health Muskegon. She says that realization occurred when the nurses noticed there were over 100 different types of supplies used between the two hospitals. “The conversations now are around what is best for the patient, even when it comes to supplies.”

The teamwork continues to strengthen. “They’ve discovered merging expertise is exciting,” said Passenier.

The merging of expertise didn’t stop with supplies. The 55 Hackley ER nurses and the 45 Mercy ER nurses also agreed they needed experience working in each other’s Emergency Room to bring seamless patient care to the new ER. Their reaction to the job swaps even surprised Marsman as she recalls hearing one colleague comment about Hackley’s ER: “They do things a lot differently, even their patients are different. I’d go over there any time.”

Trust in leadership has been essential in bringing these two sides together. Marsman says that consistently reassuring our colleagues helped the process. “Letting them tour the new ER and seeing how big it is and that it’s going to take all of us and more to staff the new medical center, helped ease the concerns over job loss, seniority and shift changes.”

Now just months away from the new Emergency Department opening, Passenier is witnessing these two sides become one. “People aren’t jumping ship; they want to be a part of this team.”

Because, at the heart of it all is the patient and the determination to give them the best medical care possible.

The Emergency Department Physicians: Equal Partnership Equals Unity

Jerry Evans, MD

For decades, Muskegon has been served by two Emergency Departments – one located at Hackley Campus near downtown Muskegon and one at Mercy Campus located just two miles away on East Sherman Boulevard. Six months from now, the current staff at Mercy will move into the new Emergency Department at Mercy Campus. Beginning in November 2019, Hackley colleagues will join their Mercy counterparts and come together in a single, physical space – finally leaving one central location for all hospital care In Muskegon.

Just as the nurses have worked through their differences and come together to serve patients as a unified team – the Emergency Department physicians also had to learn how to combine two separate business models when deciding how to best serve patients in the new medical center.

Negotiations for the merger of the two Emergency Departments at Mercy Health Muskegon began five years ago, eventually leading to the creation of a new joint Emergency Physicians group called, Lake Michigan Emergency Specialists. Dr. Jerry Evans, medical director of Mercy Health Muskegon Emergency departments, headed up the task of creating what would be the first but necessary step in the merger. “The two ED groups had very different business models, but when it came down to it, it was almost a unanimous vote on how to run the new group,” recalls Evans.  “We wanted every physician to have a say and an opportunity to be able to become a full partner in the corporation. Really, a matter of getting to know each other and finding a model that would work for both groups. We took some of their model and some of ours and made it work. That’s a huge win.”

Shortly after the corporation was approved, Dr. Evans was elected to serve as medical director for both hospitals.

“The fact that we are one group and we are united to provide excellent care in our new facility is incredible. I think it’s a really great and exciting time for our new ED,” said Evans.

That first step of the merger also included Emergency physicians treating patients at both hospitals. Evans says staff was a little unsure at first. “Mercy Campus physicians do things one way, or the Hackley physicians may do things differently. That stereotype may have tried to carry over but it didn’t last.”

It was all part of the process when creating a state-of-the-art Emergency Department which will be able to see over 90,000 patients a year. “I’ve just been so impressed by the way the colleagues have come together.” says Evans.

As the largest merger of departments for the new Mercy Health medical center, Dr. Evans believes the work they put in over the last five years is what helped lay the ground work for their success. Other mergers of physician groups have included:  Anesthesia, Radiology and Pathology, however – ED and OR will be the first departments in the new medical center.

“I hope we’ve been a good example to many other groups.”

Additional departments are now using examples of the positive change management tactics implemented by both the ED physicians and nursing groups. Imaging, lab and many others will be continuing efforts to streamline processes and increase team productivity throughout the coming months and even further into the future. Check back at Mercy Health News for more stories related to consolidation efforts centered around our colleagues.

 

 

 

Adam Anderson, MD, Receives Mercy Health Physician Appreciation Award

Adam Anderson with leader and nursing staff at Mercy Health Southwest Emergency

Adam Anderson, MD, was nominated for this quarterly award by a nurse colleague, Nicole Liversedge, at the Mercy Health Emergency Department on the Southwest Campus. While caring for a critically ill patient, Liversedge experienced firsthand the professional expertise and calm communication of Anderson in an emergency situation. Her remarks follow:

“I greatly appreciated Dr. Anderson’s openness and initiative to collaborate with me on our patient’s plan of care. He was receptive to my concerns and thoughts. His collaborative teamwork and open communication turned a very stressful situation into a manageable situation. Dr. Anderson was precise and directed care for a critical procedure in a seamless approach. I am grateful to work alongside a physician that appreciates his nursing staff, values their abilities, exhibits patients and provides the best patient care.”

Congratulations to Anderson from everyone at Mercy Health.

The Good Lord Brought Me Through It

Greenville Resident Carol Roy Survives Two Thoracic Aortic Aneurysms

Carol Roy knew she had a thoracic aortic aneurysm that John Morris, DO, with Mercy Health Vascular Surgery was monitoring.

So in 2014, when the aneurysm became larger, she was not surprised that Morris referred her to the Director of Endovascular Services at Mercy Health Saint Mary’s, Joshua I. Greenberg MD, RPVI, for further care.

An aneurysm is a ballooning of a blood vessel and, in Roy’s case, it was an aneurysm of  the aorta — the body’s largest blood vessel that travels from the heart to other vessels through which it delivers oxygenated blood to the entire body.

With the worsening of her condition, Roy and her daughter, Karen Bull, were thrilled to consult the first provider at Mercy Health in Grand Rapids to surgically repair a thoracic aortic aneurysm with a stent-graft. In fact, during his career, Greenberg has completed more than 100 such procedures.

“He listened to me and showed me with pictures what was happening in my body,” said Roy. “He explained everything.”

Described by the mother and daughter as “compassionate, humble and outstanding,” Greenberg took the time to discuss all of the options for and aspects of Roy’s care.

Carol Roy (right) with daughter Karen Bull (left)

Bull is the “designated daughter” who attends most medical appointments with her mom and keeps track of Roy’s medical history.

“Dr. Greenberg gave us the risks and benefits — including the risk of paralysis — but we knew that the aneurysm was getting larger, so we needed to do something. A rupture would mean disaster,” said Bull. “We felt confident about Dr. Greenberg’s skills.”

As a lifelong Catholic, Roy was pleased that during her hospital stays, “chaplains prayed for me and even gave me a prayer blanket.” During her procedures, Roy’s faith was unwavering in both God and Greenberg that she would have positive results.

“Because her vessels were small, we created a bypass to deliver the stent into her aorta,” said Greenberg about the successful procedure for her first aneurysm.

Following her surgery, Roy had to lie flat to avoid post-surgical complications. “We love the nurses at Mercy Health. They are very caring, and I had great care. The nurses checked me constantly. You couldn’t ask for nicer people,” said Roy.

After a week, Roy returned home and received follow-up home care. Greenberg urged Bull to watch her mother for signs, such as, “If she gets any back pain or shortness of breath, take her to the Emergency Department.” Greenberg had identified a second aneurysm that his team would monitor over time for changes. First Roy needed to heal from surgery; they would treat the second aneurysm in the future.

A few months later, when Roy began to suffer from back pain, Bull took her mother to the local ED, and from there, Roy was transferred to another health care system in Grand Rapids. Providers in that hospital noticed that her second aneurysm was beginning to affect Roy’s health.

“The other doctors offered to provide care for my mother’s aneurysm, but my mom wanted to stay with Dr. Greenberg for her follow-up care after her first aneurysm and to repair her second aneurysm,” said Bull.

In 2015, between her surgical treatment with Greenberg for each aneurysm, Roy had a CT scan done at another health care system for another condition and had a reaction to the contrast dye during the scan. However, no one informed the providers at Mercy Health about the reaction.

So when Roy underwent a contrast CT scan at Mercy Health as a follow-up after her first aneurysm, she went into complete cardiac arrest. Bull was out of town at the time, so the vital information about Roy’s previous adverse reaction was not relayed to providers at Mercy Health.

With clear recollection of that day, Greenberg shared, “Staff at Mercy Health Saint Mary’s performed CPR and revived Carol. Her recovery was not only miraculous, but in 2016, we were later able to address her second aneurysm.”

Roy’s second aneurysm was located near the aortic arch, where branches of the aorta go to the brain. “We needed to reroute the blood flow to the branches through multiple bypasses before we placed a stent to address her aneurysm,” said Greenberg.

This second procedure was far more complex than the first one, but it was also successful.

Now at age 76, this mother, grandmother and great-grandmother volunteers locally at a charity. She credits Greenberg’s skill and Mercy Health with her ability to have an active lifestyle. “I still drive, run errands and like to be doing things.”

Confident that Roy will have normal life expectancy, Greenberg explained that stents require long-term surveillance; some patients will need a secondary procedure.

“We’ll provide follow-up care for Carol as we do for all our patients with aneurysms, whether they are routine or complex. We’re happy to be available 24/7.”

Learn about Mercy Health’s vascular surgery program