Jim and Joe agree. High Tech needs the Human Touch
After 42 years as an educator, Jim Flurry continues to serve students as a trustee of the Marysville Joint Unified School District. Not surprising for someone named in 1997 as the Appeal-Democrat's first-ever Teacher of the Year. But surprising, perhaps, for someone who has lived with Type 2 Diabetes for the past 27 years.
Complications from his disease sent Jim to Rideout Imaging Services, where he was helped each time by Nuclear Medicine Supervisor Joe Maslan, Recalls Jim, "Joe was so accommodating and so helpful, he really left an impression on me. The extraordinary level of care he gave me was also gracious and reassuring. He puts your mind at ease."
Jim's current School Board term ends in 2012. With the help of dedicated professionals like Rideout's Joe Maslan to manage his health challenges, he plans to run again.
Ken Anderson Sees the Heart of Dr. Baron Harper
Ken Anderson is a towering presence, in person and in the community. Eagle Scout, Rotarian, Banker, and now, cardiac patient.
One spring night, Ken arrived by ambulance at Rideout Memorial Hospital's Emergency Department, where tests indicated he had suffered a heart attack and required surgery. He was in the right place. The Heart Center at Rideout offers comprehensive cardiac care, and thoracic surgeon Dr. Baron Harper took charge of Ken's case.
Ken recalls the days leading up to his surgery, "Dr. Harper was very caring, confident and comfortable as he took me, and my family, through what would happen during and after the procedure, putting us at ease. There was no question that I had the right man, a terrific human being."
Ken had praise, too, for "every nurse, every technician" at Rideout, at Rideout Home Health, who continued care after his discharge, and at the cardiac rehab program he continues to attend.
Once again robust, Ken reflects, "You put your life in these people's hands. They all have the right attitude, the right spirit and give to the max. You know something is going very right at Rideout."
Peace of Mind at Journey's End
Eric Hellberg, Lt Col, USAF (Ret.), is a methodical man. Maybe it's his 30 years as an Air Force pilot. Maybe it's simply his nature, just like his gift for friendship and storytelling. Whether flying missions in Viet Nam, serving in the Strategic Air Command, as City Councilman and then Mayor of Yuba City, or planting his backyard garden, Eric has always been a man with a vision and a plan. Now, he is summoning these strengths as he faces the end of his life. He is not doing it alone.
"When my wife, Theresa, suggested Rideout's Hospice program, I resisted what I took to be a death sentence," Eric recalled. "But the moment I enrolled, I felt a great weight had been lifted. My declining health had put a huge burden on my wife, and we now have an entire team to help us."
Eric has high praise for the nurses and other professionals who care for him at home and for trained Hospice volunteer Christian Bryeans, the son of a military pilot whom he now considers family.
"Chris can and will do anything for us, and gives Theresa time to rest. All these folks are great, always upbeat, genuinely concerned. The whole team is magnificent; that's what makes Hospice work. People shouldn't wait too long to request the service. It will not change the outcome, but the peace of mind is unbelievable."
Heart to Heart ... to Heart
Phil Krebs is aware of the irony; after decades of healthy eating and following a faithful fitness regimen that is the envy of his friends, he was the one with the blocked arteries. Working out three times a week since 1964 could not trump hereditary high cholesterol. As Executive Director of the Yuba College Foundation, Phil is constantly on the go, so his fitness is a professional asset, as well. In June, he celebrated his 60th birthday on a visit to San Francisco. Walking the city's hills that day, he didn't know he was doing it with a 100% coronary artery blockage, and attributed his shortness of breath to fatigue.
At home a few days later, it happened again. After two minutes on a treadmill at his doctor's office, he was sent to the Emergency Department at Rideout Memorial Hospital, where tests confirmed he was having a heart attack. From there it was a quick gurney ride to The Heart Center to place a stent in the blocked artery. "I didn't even have time to get scared," Phil recalled. From Emergency to Surgery to Cardiovascular Intensive Care, he experienced "a nice blend of professionalism and real warmth from everyone. I hesitate to say this, but I even enjoyed the food."
During the next three months he spent in The Heart Center's cardiac rehab program, Phil stuck to a familiar pattern of working out three times weekly. This time, it was under the tutelage of rehab specialists: cardiac rehab coordinator Betsy Decker Clarke, R.N., and clinical exercise physiologist Raimund Zielinski, M.S. Ed. "They keep it light-hearted but they get you right down to business. These are two very genuine, very encouraging people."
For more information, go to www. FRHG.com or call (530) 741-3840.
Stroke of Good Fortune
Eric Jordan is laughing. Laughing because he is already back at work after nearly dying in January. Laughing, too, because laughter itself is one of the few after effects of the brain stem stroke he suffered just two months ago. Because it affects basic functions like breathing and is the link between brain and body, strokes in the brain stem are, in a word, catastrophic. Even if the victim survives, there is the possibility of total paralysis or never regaining consciousness. A cruel fate for a 50- year old Masters diver like Eric.
Eric's hometown of Diamond Springs is a long way from Diamond Head. Yet, he's an avid "surf historian" who has created the largest archive of recorded interviews with surfing legends and musicians. Eric and his wife, Stephany, have a thriving media production business with high profile clients in the music industry. In late January, Eric had just returned home from his regular health club workout, when he became dizzy and uncoordinated. He dialed his wife and she dialed 911. The ambulance beat her to the house where EMTs were already working on Eric, who was now completely paralyzed, with "locked in syndrome."
With strokes, there is only a three hour window during which highly skilled medical intervention can help. When the ambulance pulled up at Rideout Memorial Hospital, Dr. Kulwinder "KJ" Singh, M.D., a specialist in Emergency Medicine for more than 20 years, had an entire team waiting and focused on saving Eric's life. Stephany describes the coordinated group of critical caregivers as an 'orchestra', with Dr. Singh conducting with quiet authority. "We're on a timeline here, people," she recalls him saying. "It was clear that he was concerned not only about saving Eric's life, but about the quality of his life if he survived."
Dr. Singh worked with Rideout neurologist Dr. Wenchiang Han to administer clot-busting treatments that cleared a third of the blockage immediately, and they alerted an interventional radiologist in Sacramento to perform the delicate surgery required for further improvement. Dr. Singh called Stephany several times to check on Eric's condition after he left Rideout. "He is so competent and also compassionate," she said.
Eric went home February 1. On February 19, he walked on his own into Rideout's Emergency Dept. for a visit with the medical team who brought him back from the brink. When Dr. Singh spotted Eric, Stephany says there were tears -- and laughter -- all around.
The Jordans have nominated Dr. Singh as one of Fremont- Rideout's Guardian Angels. Their donation in his honor, most fittingly, will help fund the expansion of the Emergency Department where he saved Eric's life.
Back to Health...Back to Fully Living
Sharon Sheard loves kids. Good thing, too, and not just because she has five of her own. Her 30-year career as a daycare professional was all about children: engaging them, teaching them, and lifting them. She thought her backache came with the job, but it was more serious than that. Even after her retirement, intense pain persisted and essentially sidelined her from life. "I had been on many prescription pills and painkillers, even intravenous infusions of medication once a month for six years, but there was still pain," Sharon recalled.
Not giving up, Sharon's doctor referred her to more specialists, including Praveen Prasad, M.D., Board Certified in both neurosurgery and internal medicine. Educated at Stanford and UC Davis, and on the clinical faculty at the UC Davis Medical Center, Dr. Prasad is a specialist in spine surgery at Rideout's Neurosurgery Center in Marysville. "I chose Dr. Prasad because he explained the operation I needed in full detail, encouraged questions from me and from my husband, and helped me make an intelligent decision." She was impressed by the medical and nursing team at Rideout Memorial - "all very attentive, very kind, which my husband really appreciated" - but reserved her highest praise for her surgeon.
"I believe I chose the very best doctor to perform my operation; anyone who has the opportunity to work with or be a patient of Dr. Prasad is truly blessed."
Sharon had her surgery in September 2009 and hasn't had a pain pill since that November.
"I'm back working in my garden again. My husband and children cannot believe how much better I am." Now able to truly enjoy her retirement, Sharon won't miss being surrounded by kids: after all, she and her husband have 11 grandchildren.
A Heartfelt... Friendship
Diagnosed with mitral valve insufficiency at just 19, Debbie Elliott was already familiar with this disorder because her mother, sister and two uncles had it. She was determined never to let the symptoms of her cardiac condition keep her from living a full life, even spending seven years abroad doing volunteer work with her husband. Still, she knew the problem was progressive and would someday require surgery to replace or repair the valve. The good news was that mitral valve repair is one of the few surgeries that completely restore normal life expectancy.
Several years ago, her mother's condition warranted surgery, and Debbie was determined to find the surgeon best qualified to handle the case. That included two important prerequisites: expertise in mitral valve repair and experience using surgical techniques that would not require the use of blood, in keeping with the family's religious beliefs.
Intensive research brought her to Patrick Griffith, M.D., who leads the cardiac surgery team at
The Heart Center at Rideout, in Marysville.
"We were willing to go anywhere, but it turned out that the specialist we needed -- one of only a few hundred in the country -- was just 30 minutes away from Oroville," Debbie recalled.
"Dr. Griffith is not just an amazing surgeon; he is an amazing man."
Her mother's surgery was a success, and Dr. Griffith became part of the family. But the story did not end there.
This May, at only 53, Debbie suffered a rapid decline in her own condition, requiring immediate surgery. Dr. Griffith, whose medical training included a fellowship at the National Institutes of Health, now had in place the protocols for minimally invasive mitral valve repair, avoiding traditional "open chest" surgery and its long recovery period. Debbie was a perfect candidate for the new procedure, which also was done without the use of blood. Just four days after her surgery, Debbie was back home living life in full. "My purpose in sharing my story is to let people know that this surgical 'dream team', these skills, this wonderful care is available right here in our area. I cannot imagine getting any better care anywhere."