Healing the Heart: Heart Attack Patient Raves About Care

Heart attack patient raves about care at North Mountain Hospital and Deer Valley cardiac rehab

Healing the Heart
Among those who cared for Chuck Smith when he had his heart attack, taking the time to get to know him, are Erin Mitchell (left), an Emergency Department patient care technician, and Vickey Taylor, RN, in the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit.

"On Oct. 27, 2013, I had a heart attack. Fortunately for me, I was taken to John C. Lincoln North Mountain Hospital where I received world-class care," said Chuck Smith, 67, a Moon Valley resident.

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While at the gym, Chuck said he experienced "an incredible pressure" across his chest. He drove himself home (against his better judgment), and his wife, a retired nurse, called 9-1-1. When the paramedics arrived, she asked, "If this was your dad, where would you take him?" They simultaneously replied, "John C. Lincoln North Mountain Hospital."

Heart Attack Occurs in ED

As the ambulance transported Chuck, the Emergency Department (ED) care team prepared for his arrival. "When we know a (possible) heart attack patient is on the way, we begin prepping the bedside immediately," said Erin Mitchell, an ED patient care technician. "As soon as the patient is in the door, he or she will receive an EKG, and an i-STAT System will analyze blood samples within minutes to provide real-time, lab-quality results."

The Road to Recovery

  • Cardiac Rehab is a clinically supervised program to help individuals recover from heart attacks, heart surgery, cardiac stenting and congestive heart failure.
  • Participants perform individualized, cardiac-monitored exercise programs and receive education and counseling on healthy lifestyles.

"A number of people were older and didn't grasp all the concepts," said patient Chuck Smith. "The way the staff treated them was so kind โ€“ almost like they mentally put their arms around the patient and said 'let me help you.' It was so impressive."

While in the ED, Chuck actually suffered a heart attack. "It got busy quickly," he said. That's because time equals muscle. When blood flow stops, heart muscle starts to die. The faster blood flow can be restored, the less damage is done and the more complete the recovery.

One of Chuck's arteries was 90 percent blocked. An interventional cardiologist in the Cath Lab inserted three stents, followed by Chuck's recuperation in the cardiovascular intensive care unit (CVICU).

"I wasn't in any pain," he said. "The nurses took the time to get to know me and treated me as an individual." The father of eight said "the staff made the decision that it was OK for me to have visitors based on how I was doing โ€“ there were no rigid visitation rules."

Vickey Taylor, RN, was a member of Chuck's CVICU care team. "We're here to support patients and their families," she said. "Education is part of this support โ€“ from the moment they arrive, we educate them on medications, expectations and goals."

Less than 48 hours after his heart attack, Chuck went home, with Cardiac Rehab part of his follow-up care. He recently finished 12 weeks at John C. Lincoln Deer Valley Hospital Cardiac Rehab and called it "another world-class operation."

"I wish I had the words to adequately express my gratitude, but the only thing I can say is 'thank you'," Chuck said.

Learn more about cardiac care at

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