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Ernie & Kathy's Story: Beebe Offers Big City Expertise

Ernie and Kathy Catucci have been coming to the Delaware beaches since they were kids. Now their visits often begin on a Thursday night and go through Sunday. Very early on a Friday morning in April, Ernie was awakened by pain in his arm. He said, “It felt like my left triceps muscle was blowing up, but I really didn’t know why or what was going on.”
Ernie’s wife Kathy, a longtime nurse, said, “I had an idea what was happening when Ernie started complaining of the pain in his arm. I asked him, ‘Are you having chest pain? Are you having difficulty breathing?’ But he wasn’t. He wanted to take a shower, and when he got out the pain in his arm started getting worse. That’s when I called 9-1-1.”
The Millsboro Emergency Medical Services team arrived at Ernie and Kathy’s home in minutes. Ernie was impressed and also reassured by their care. “The guys got there and hooked me up to an EKG. I asked them, ‘What’s going on?’ And one EMT said, ‘Ernie, you’re in the process of having a massive heart attack.’” Ernie, a Catholic, asked for a priest.
The EMTs started IVs, gave Ernie nitroglycerin, and said, “Ernie, you’re not going to die. We’re taking you to the Emergency Department at Beebe Healthcare in Lewes.” In the ambulance, they started relaying information about Ernie’s condition to the ED doctors at Beebe.
Ernie recalled, “When we arrived, I was immediately greeted by Dr. Robert Myers, an interventional cardiologist, and Denise Pecora, a cardiac nurse practitioner. Dr. Myers was ready to go and said, ‘Ernie, we are going right to the Cardiac Catheterization Lab. I am going to insert a catheter into your groin and put a stent into the main artery of your heart - the widow maker.’”
Ernie was concerned, but also confident, he said: “I’m 73, and my father died of a heart attack when he was just 54. I’ve been so blessed in my life with my wonderful wife, Kathy, and our amazing family. I was also immediately impressed by Dr. Myers. He was friendly. He was professional. He was ready to go to work. I believed Dr. Myers would take care of me; he would fix me, because he struck me as very knowledgeable and was clearly an expert cardiologist.”
Kathy was also impressed by the care and compassion of another Beebe team member: “The hospital chaplain, Rev. Keith Goheen, came right out to see us as we were coming into the Emergency Department. Rev. Goheen stayed by my side the entire time Ernie was in the Cath Lab, until my sister and her husband arrived,” Kathy said.
Ernie’s cardiac catheterization was a success. “Dr. Myers’ partner came in and saw me on Saturday, and said I could go home Sunday morning. From the Emergency Department, to surgery, to recovery and post-op care in the hospital, everyone at Beebe was so very kind and caring. The hospitalists, the dieticians and the housekeeping staff, every person was so courteous and professional. They all worked together so closely as a team. Kathy and I were very happy that everything went so quickly and smoothly.”
Ernie shared about his follow-up visit with Dr. Myers: “That following Tuesday, when we went to Dr. Myer’s office, he checked me out and told me everything was going very well. As we were leaving, one of his partners, another surgeon, was opening the door and escorting an older patient out of their office. Things are so different than what I have seen at other hospitals. Your people are so much more kind and caring. Beebe provides excellent care with a small-town feeling. Dr. Myers has big-city knowledge and experience, but his kindness and his care are so much better than a big-city experience. As far as I’m concerned, Beebe is one of the greatest hospitals in the country.”
Beebe Healthcare recently received the American Heart Association’s With the Mission: Lifeline Silver Receiving Quality Achievement Award. It recognizes that Beebe has met specific criteria and standards of performance for quick and appropriate treatment through emergency procedures to re-establish blood flow to blocked arteries in heart attack patients coming into the hospital directly or by transfer from another facility.
Rick Schaffner, interim CEO, executive vice president and COO of Beebe, praised the partnership among EMS, the Emergency Department and other specialty units. “I think this is a tremendous honor for us, and continues to show our forward progress and our teamwork across our organization,” he said.
Ernie and Kathy Catucci made a wonderful gift to Beebe Medical Foundation to Celebrate Excellent Care and support Cardiac and Vascular Services at Beebe Healthcare. As a community-based, not-for-profit healthcare system, Beebe Healthcare relies on the generous support of individuals, local businesses, corporations and private foundations. Please consider making a gift today. Contact Beebe Medical Foundation at 302-644-2900 or email foundation@beebehealthcare.org.
Caption: Ernie and Kathy Catucci, in front, celebrate excellent care with (l-r) Justin Shockley and Christine Mapp of Mid-Sussex Rescue Squad Station 91; Kalina Petkova and Matt Troutman of Sussex County EMS Medic 106; Dr. G. Robert Myers, interventional cardiologist; Denise Pecora, cardiovascular nurse practitioner; and the Rev. Keith Goheen, Beebe chaplain.