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First open-heart patient does “spectacularly well”

Hamilton Realtor Mary Marcum is something of an expert  at firsts.  She’s helped many families find their first home, make their first offer and negotiate their first mortgage.

Mary's Story

She now has the proud distinction of being the first patient to have open-heart surgery at the Heart Center at Atrium Medical Center.Due to coronary artery disease, Mary needed a three-bypass graft procedure, with additional surgery to close a hole in her heart.

John M. Miller, MD, open-heart surgery medical director, performed the procedure with fellow cardiovascular surgeon Scot Denmark, MD, present.

Prior to surgery, when Dr. Miller asked Mary if she minded being the Heart Center’s first patient, she didn’t hesitate. “I thought it was a great idea. I was really excited about helping to start something new for the region,” she explains. “And I’ve got to say, care at that hospital is amazing.”

Advanced Technology Helps Make the Call

Two years ago, Mary visited her family doctor to find out why she was feeling so tired. Her doctor detected a slight heart murmur. “I came home and didn’t think much about it,” she says. But Mary’s grand-son Bill, a medical student at the University of Cincinnati, pressed her to get it checked out. After reviewing the credentials of local cardiologists, Bill recommended she see Syed Najeed, MD, interventional cardiologist  at Atrium Medical Center.

Today, Mary credits Bill with saving her life.  After a series of tests, “Dr. Najeed told me  I had a hole in my heart and two leaky valves,” Mary recalls. Still, she continued to do well, but fatigue was a constant companion.

Then, in May, a new advance in cardiac imaging—a cardiac CT angiogram using new 64-slice CT technology at Atrium—revealed something far more serious. A major artery on the left side of Mary’s heart was blocked. 

That’s when Dr. Najeed made the history-making recommendation.

“I suggested the Heart Center at Atrium because I trust Dr. Miller, I trust Atrium Medical Center and I know most of the nursing staff in the CVSICU (Cardiovascular Surgery  Intensive Care Unit),” says Dr. Najeed. “Mary and I discussed having her surgery at Atrium, and she agreed. I’m happy that she did!”

Excellent Outcomes

Mary had surgery on Monday, June 2,  and it went “without a ripple,” according to Dr. Miller. “There’s always an element of pressure in what we do, especially in a brand new environment. But our first case and those that followed have gone incredibly smoothly, thanks to the many people who invested so much time and effort up front.”

Mary echoed Dr. Miller’s praise for the Heart Center, saying, “I’ve been to other hospitals throughout the country with family members. The care and the thoughtfulness at Atrium and the way they kept my family members informed was above and beyond anything I’d ever seen. The team there is just wonderful.”

By Friday, Dr. Miller said Mary was doing “spectacularly well,” and she was discharged from Atrium feeling better and more energetic than before her surgery. 

Seeing patients like Mary rebound from a heart condition while looking forward to a longer, fuller life is like the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow for Dr. Miller and his team. And now that Atrium’s open-heart program is off to a great start, the capabilities of the Heart Center will soon grow to include interventional cardiovascular procedures, such as balloon angioplasty, stenting and heart valve repair and replacement.

“There’s a tremendous amount of energy and optimism among the Heart Center team,” Dr. Miller explains. “All the hard work is coming to fruition, and we’re seeing real results. Many months of preparation and anxiety have been replaced by a shared sense of triumph. Some have compared it to the birth of a child!”

Mary, now enjoying a life of better health, couldn’t agree more. “I thank God that He’s taken care of me and given me the good sense to know that if you’ve got a problem, you need to take care of it,” she remarks. “And I thank Him for all the good people He supplied me with to help me do that job.”