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Celebrate Excellent Care

Hip replacement leads to open heart surgery and great care

By John Clark

I had a hip replacement scheduled for November 10, 2021 at Beebe Healthcare.  It was to be performed by one of my favorite Orthopaedic doctors, Joseph Farrell, DO.  As standard, pre-operative procedure, an approval by a cardiologist is required and I have one of the best in Ajith Kumar, MD.

It was this simple, pre-surgery approval process, however, that caused my story to take a bit of a turn.  Dr. Kumar saw a few indicators and suggested I take a Cardiac CT for a calcium score.  This procedure would take pictures of my coronary arteries to determine if they were blocked or narrowed by the buildup of calcium.  I agreed to the CT and what I though was a slight variation in my plan for a hip replacement became a complete u-turn.

I had never had a calcium score done before.  Apparently, a score of less that 100 is ok.  My score was 1640 which is “off the charts.”  I needed immediate cardiac treatment.

Dr. Kumar said that normally, there are three options – medication, stents or open-heart surgery.  He quickly scheduled a cardiac catheterization procedure, hoping that a few stents would remedy my situation.  During the stent procedure though, Dr. Kumar determined that stents were not enough.  I needed a Coronary Artery Bypass Graft (CABG).  Dr. Kumar reached out to cardiothoracic surgeon, Edward “Ted” Stephenson, MD and within an hour, Dr. Stephenson’s PA was at my bedside explaining the next steps.

I had my first face-to-face meeting with Dr. Stephenson within two days.  My open-heart surgery was scheduled for November 15th.

Now here is the really interesting part of my story.  I don’t review restaurants, movies, or doctors and Dr. Stephenson had come to me without my solicitation.  However, when a family member asked my wife the name of the physician doing my open-heart surgery, we were shocked to discover that the brother of one of my in-laws spent four years at Penn State with Dr. Stephenson!  My relative is a cardiologist in Scottsdale, Arizona and he told us unequivocally, that Dr. Stephenson is a “rock star” in his profession.

I didn’t need that confirmation, but now I had something to tease Dr. Stephenson about.  And yes, he has certainly lived up wo that billing but I doubt “rock star” will ever be on his calling card.

My surgery went great and my three days at Beebe and roughly ten days at home with Beebe Home Care was absolutely amazing.  Supposedly, at 72, I became the “iron man.”  Everyone was thrilled with my progress but the real “rock stars” are the twenty to thirty Beebe health care providers that took care of me.  I am truly grateful for each and every one.

I have now started cardiac physical therapy to get my endurance back.  My six kids and nine (soon to be 10) grandkids should also help keep me in shape.  Oh … and one more thing … forty years of fast food will help get you into my spaghetti-bowl-artery mess. I’m now a huge advocate of folks getting all baselines and screenings done that their doctor suggests.  Maybe soon I’ll even get that new hip that I originally went in for!

Your forever grateful patient, neighbor, and friend, John.

As a community-based, not-for-profit healthcare system, Beebe Healthcare depends on the generous support of the community it serves. To make a gift to celebrate the excellent care you or a loved one has received, visit Beebe Medical Foundation at beebemedicalfoundation.org/donate or call 302-644-2900. Want to share your story? Contact Amanda Neal at [email protected].