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Our Health is Impacted by the Choices we Make

Joe and Linda Komorowski celebrate excellent care with Dr. Mayer Katz, center.

It was a beautiful night in October 2017 when Joe and Linda Komorowski left their new home in Millsboro to join friends for dinner in Rehoboth. The Komorowskis had moved to Delaware from Stanhope, N.J., in July 2017 to start their retirement years, and they were ecstatic about the possibilities. Driving down Route 24 that night, chatting about their new home, new friends, and new life at the beach, they were totally unaware of what was about to happen.

“Driving along the highway, we came to a stop at a red light,” Joe remembers. “A few seconds later, a car hit us from behind and pushed us into the car in front of us. I remember hitting my head on the roof of the car. I know that both Linda and I had pain in our head and neck, and Linda had pain in her back. Very quickly a first responder, EMT vehicles, and state police arrived. Our injuries were evaluated, and we were strongly encouraged to go to the hospital for further evaluation. We agreed it was a good idea and were taken to Beebe.”

Once at the hospital, they were triaged and taken to treatment rooms where Dr. Paul Cowan, an Emergency Department physician, took a history of what had happened.

“Linda’s tests turned out to be completely normal, but I was not so lucky,” Joe said. “The doctor immediately ordered a CT scan of my head and neck as well as an ECG. The doctor was not happy with the CT scan and didn’t like the pictures of the carotid artery, so an ultrasound was ordered. Following the ultrasound, the doctor told me my carotid artery was almost completely blocked and discharged me from the ED to see a vascular surgeon.”

“Our treatment in the Emergency Department was extraordinary,” Linda recalls. “We were both shaken, nervous, and scared. But everyone put us at ease.”

“It was the kind of ‘customer service’ that you would expect to receive on an expensive cruise ship,” Joe added. “Everyone was pleasant, efficient, and respectful. Dr. Cowan was kind, honest, and direct. Our nurses, Lauren Burkhardt and Beth Phillips, were beyond terrific. The care we received at Beebe was just the best.”

Dr. Cowan recommended Joe see Dr. Mayer Katz, a vascular surgeon in the area.

”Dr. Katz sent me out for a number of tests, including a physical exam, blood work, and a visit to a cardiologist, Dr. Kumar, for a surgical release. Dr. Katz quickly determined that my carotid artery was nearly 90 percent blocked, and he recommended surgery immediately. He told me I was in severe danger of having a stroke, and that we needed to act quickly,” Joe said. “Dr. Katz shared with me what I had been thinking for a couple of days. He said, ‘Joe, you are so fortunate to have had the car accident, which got you to Beebe and allowed our staff to discover your condition. Someone was definitely looking out for you, and your car accident was a blessing in disguise.’”

Joe was scheduled for surgery in early November and spent one night in the hospital after his procedure.

“My care was fabulous from the moment I stepped into the hospital. My nurses were amazing, and the ICU staff were unbelievable. Linda was very nervous, but my ICU nurse made her feel at ease and confident that things would be alright. They could not have been more attentive,” Joe said.

“Dr. Katz, Dr. Cowan, and all of the staff in the Emergency Department are top-notch caregivers,” Linda added. “They attended to all of our needs, checked in on us, were honest and direct with us, and kept us informed. They constantly made sure we understood what was happening at every milestone. The entire staff was compassionate, caring, understanding, and made sure I was cared for too. Our entire experience in and out of the hospital was first-rate quality treatment. We could not ask for more, and we are beyond grateful.”

Since his ordeal, Joe has made the changes necessary to start living a healthier life. He looks and feels terrific, is back to ballroom dancing, and has stopped smoking.

There is a lesson to be learned in Joe’s story. While one’s risk for carotid artery disease increases with age and is influenced by family history, there are still many opportunities to prevent it and live a healthier life. Our health is impacted by the choices we make every day. If you are ready to quit smoking, set that quit date and call the Delaware Quitline.

Dr. Mayer Katz, who founded Beebe’s Cardiac & Vascular Services program in 1990, has recently retired. He is proud that Beebe has been recognized by Healthgrades among the Top 10 percent of hospitals in the nation for interventional cardiology procedures for two years in a row (2017-18). Patients are now receiving excellent care from Beebe’s vascular surgeons, Dr. Carlos Neves and Dr. Sean Ryan. Both are board certified in vascular surgery and fellowship trained in vascular and endovascular surgery.

Beebe Healthcare is working to build the future of cardiac and vascular surgery in Lewes. A new hybrid operating room and expanded cardiac catheterization/electrophysiology labs are being constructed at the Margaret H. Rollins Lewes Campus. This project, funded by generous donations from the community through Beebe Medical Foundation, will utilize existing space for a new 4,302-square-foot cardiac and vascular treatment area. The hybrid operating room will be the first of its kind for Beebe Healthcare.

“It is an exciting process that brings together our vascular surgeons, interventional cardiologists, radiologists, and support teams to build an operating room that will provide the latest in advanced imaging technology for vascular surgeons and allow patients to undergo both open surgery and endovascular or minimally invasive procedures in the same room,” said Rick Schaffner, executive vice president and COO, Beebe Healthcare. For more information on Beebe’s Vascular Services programs, visit www.beebehealthcare.org/vascular.

As a community-owned, not-for-profit healthcare system, Beebe continues to depend on the generous support of individuals, corporations, businesses, and private foundations. All gifts, large or small, to Beebe Healthcare, are tax deductible and are channeled through Beebe Medical Foundation. Please consider making a gift today and share your amazing stories with our community. To make your proud personal donation or to learn more about Celebrate Excellent Care, go to www.beebemedicalfoundation.org, call the foundation at 302-644-2900 or email foundation@beebehealthcare.org.