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ED/Cardiac Patient Story

Oct 24, 2019

As a Paratooper Ranger in 75th Ranger Regiment, a special operations force that is part of the United States Army Special Operations Command, Joseph could be found parachuting out of planes into an operation. Following his run in the military, Joe became a paramedic and made a concerted effort to live a healthy lifestyle by running, biking and maintaining a vegan diet.

Today, in Joe’s position as a paramedic at West Boca Medical Center, he cares for those injured in the Emergency Department by responding to emergency calls, performing medical services and transporting patients to medical facilities. However, in July 2019, it was his colleagues in the Emergency Department who turned their attention towards the care of Joe.

 “I had a stereotypical feeling of impending doom. I called my daughter and told her I don’t think I am going to be around much longer.”

Over the course of the prior year, Joe had a number of medical issues. In addition to three cardiac catheterizations, he had a shoulder injury due to a biking accident. Unfortunately, the shoulder pain from the biking accident mimicked that of chest pain so Joe had to pay close attention to his bodies signals.

Luckily, Joe’s colleagues at WBMC were acutely aware of his medical background—when Joe’s typically upbeat demeanor seemed to deviate, they immediately came to his side.  Joe mentioned he was feeling fatigued and grabbed on to sides of the stretcher in the Emergency Room to keep from falling down.  The Emergency Department staff immediately took action—they ran tests, ensured he was stable and transferred him to the telemedicine unit. From there, Dr. Constance Fields took over his care.

“I felt that she saved my life. She was extremely thorough—she reviewed, in detail, my medical history, every single EKG I’ve had ever, and saw what most others would have missed. There were slight, very, very minute changes to leads V3 and V4.”

Dr. Fields consulted with Joe’s Cardiologist at  Delray Medical Center and they agreed to finish testing at West Boca Medical Center and subsequently transfer him to Delray for a cardiac catheterization—the same place he had been treated earlier that year.   Upon further evaluation, Joe found out he had a 98% closure of his left anterior descending artery (LAD). Occlusion of this artery can have major consequences if not dealt with appropriately, including a high risk of death. It was too dangerous to stent and therefore Joe underwent open heart surgery which was ultimately a success.

Only two months later, Joe was enthralled when he was told he could go back to work at West Boca Medical Center. He felt safe knowing that the nurses, physicians and staff would take care of him.

“We are like a family here—we all watch out for one another. This includes everyone, from registration to security to the nurses—we help each other. “It’s not my job” is not something we say.”

While you may not find Joe jumping out of airplanes today, he is progressing through cardiac rehabilitation and continues to go biking or running every morning.  Joe feels that if it were not for West Boca Medical Center he may not be here today.