What it’s like to survive a heart attack: A PATIENT’S PERSPECTIVE

Doug Bell is the director of environmental Services at CHRISTUS St. Frances Cabrini. One Sunday night he found himself arriving at the hospital under completely different circumstances. Below is his story in his own words.

From Caregiver to Patient

“Sunday night around 10:30 p.m. I arrived at the ER, I was clutching my chest and was in more pain than I thought possible. Within just a few minutes I was on a stretcher with EKG leads attached. I was aware of the look on the nurse’s face and I knew it was serious.

Rapidly I was in a wheelchair flying to the rotunda. When I arrived in my room I was met by Laura and Jacob, the ER Nurses, who immediately began doing 2,000 different things. They told me I’d be going to the Cath Lab*. They were careful to make sure I didn’t worry. Laura never left my side. She never let me be scared or nervous about what was happening. The results of my tests lead to three nurses pushing my stretcher at full speed to the Cath Lab. I was medicated so I don’t remember names of the awesome Cath Lab staff.”

*A cath lab, also known as a catheterization laboratory, is an examination room at CHRISTUS St. Frances Cabrini with state-of-the-art diagnostic imaging equipment used to visualize the arteries and chambers of the heart and quickly treat any stenosis or abnormality found.

All Hands on Deck

“Once I arrived it was fast and furious. I remember the cardiologist, Dr. Vic Nijjar, with his calm and relaxed demeanor. One of the nurses stood to my left and I remember how calming her presence was. At the end of the procedure, I heard them say “73 minutes.” I took that as a good thing.

Less than 90 minutes from when I arrived, I had two stents inserted and arrived in ICU. Kaitlin was my nurse and was amazing. It was a long night as she checked my wrist every 15 minutes as promised. She listened engagingly as I rambled about the commotion that had occurred over the last several hours. I shared my fears. She made me feel completely safe as long as she was there.

Josh arrived at shift change. He and Kaitlin had a bedside shift report* and my care never changed. Josh was by my side all day making sure I never needed anything. The consistence of compassion was seamless.

In all my experiences, I’ve never received the personal level of care that we deliver. While I was in ICU at Cabrini, Kaitlin was responsible for transferring me to another hospital unit when it was time. Again, consistency and comfort. I can’t express enough the importance of having someone I had learned to trust, Kaitlin, take me to the new floor.  As a result, I was greeted by the sweetest group of nurses. Everyone spoke and welcomed me to the unit, like a family. It was very reassuring knowing I would have this group take care of me.”

*At CHRISTUS Health, we practice nurse bedside shift reporting. Through our bedside shift report initiative, we involve the patient and family to ensure a safe hand-off between nurses at every shift change.

At the Heart of the Matter

“My nurse and CNA [Certified Nursing Assistant] were there and they had me tucked in and comfortable in just a matter of minutes. I like that my team cared about me as a person. They stood beside me. They fought for me and they took ownership of my recovery.

The following morning Matt arrived and was just as fantastic as everyone else. One thing he did that was awesome was he called my pharmacy to see what time they closed due to the weather. It’s that personal touch that reminds me what a special place Cabrini is.

As an Associate, I admit there are days when I’ve lost sight of what we do and how important all of our roles are. This experience has reinvigorated me.

Thanks to the swift response and excellent care I received, I’m happy to report I am back to work and feel 125% better. And I’m focused on patient experience with renewed energy. Please accept my sincere thank you as both my CHRISTUS Cabrini caregivers and my family.”

Doug Bell
Director, Environmental Services

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Doug Bell is back in the swing of things and recently experienced the adventure of rappelling. This was part of a fundraiser for Doug’s close friend who lost his young son. Doug and his family try to do an event every year in his honor. This time he got to rappel from 200 feet.