Usually when Andrew Palmer comes to work at Logan Regional Hospital, he ends up spending much of his time in the Cardiovascular Catheterization Lab, inventorying and stocking supplies so caregivers there can do their life-saving work. But recently he went there on a gurney and the lifesaving work they did was on him.
Andrew, an inventory specialist from Materials Management, says he remembers waking up with a slight discomfort in his chest.
“I didn’t think anything of it,” he says. “I got up like I normally do, took a shower, and drove myself to work. And about halfway from the parking garage to our materials unit the pain got much worse. I’m a fairly healthy guy and something like that was out of the norm for me. By the time I got into our storage room I knew I needed some help. So, I told the first person I saw that I was going upstairs to the ER.”
Andrew then went to the elevator, went upstairs, and walked to the Emergency Department.
“To be honest with you, I thought I was going back to work,” he says. “I thought it was just angina or — who knows what it was. I had no idea it was a heart attack.”
While Andrew may have had no idea what was going on, the first person he met in the Emergency Department had a pretty good guess.
“The lady at the ER took one look at me and she called back and they came out and got me real fast,” he says. “And literally, within one minute, they had me all hooked up to monitors and the doctor walked in and he didn't even hesitate. He looked up at the screen and he said, ‘Call the cath lab.’”
Andrew says when the doctor told him he was having a heart attack, he knew he’d be in for a stent operation or open-heart surgery and that scared him. He later learned he’d had one of the more severe heart attacks you can have.
He says there was a nurse near his head in the Emergency Department and the cath lab who was explaining to him what was happening throughout his procedures.
“They were working at breakneck speed,” Andrew says. “There wasn’t one flaw. There was no extra discomfort on my part because of the speed at which they were working. I was amazed that there were three people working on me, all doing different things, and yet I was still getting all the information relayed to me about what was going on.”
Cath Lab Coordinator Dwayne Rogers was called over and when he walked in and saw his friend he said, “What are you doing here?” says Andrew. “And I said, ‘Well, I came over here to see if you guys know what you’re doing.’”
Andrew was soon on his way to the cath lab the same place he visits daily as part of his work day.
“Three hours later I had two stents,” he says.
Rod Cevering, an angio specialist who helped Andrew that day, admits there’s a “little more sense of urgency” you feel when you recognize the person you’re treating, but says, “that doesn’t change what you’re going to do.”
Andrew says there are worse places to have a heart attack.
“I’m one of these fools who goes and chases elk all the time, so I’m always up in the hills,” he says. “I’m just lucky I wasn’t on top of a mountain that day.”
By 4 p.m. the same day his nurse had him up and walking down the halls and he was discharged the next day. Andrew wouldn’t seem a likely candidate for a heart attack except that he has a family history of such problems.
“My wife and I are real health conscious,” he says. “We grow our own vegetables for the entire year and we have a huge garden. All of our meat is organic. I harvest everything we eat and we’re not into a lot of sweets or anything.”
He credits his friends and the professionals at Logan Regional with saving his life.
“This ER is just phenomenal,” he says. “My wife was in here last year and they treated her just awesome.”