The entire team worked together like a well-oiled machine.

Bill Gottschalk, Patient

In March 2015, Kalamazoo resident Bill Gottschalk was returning home after enjoying a beautiful day of flying his airplane when he started to feel ill. At first, he thought it was just indigestion.  As soon as he was home, he quickly took some antacid hoping it would help reduce the discomfort he was feeling. That is when things took an unexpected turn for the worse.

While sitting in his favorite chair, he started to sweat profusely and knew immediately that something wasn’t right. Bill was having a heart attack. He dialed 9-1-1 and was rushed by ambulance to the Chest Pain Emergency Center at Bronson Methodist Hospital. Upon arrival, he was greeted by the cardiac catheterization lab team and quickly prepped for the heart procedure. Dr. Thomas Keller from Bronson Advanced Cardiac Healthcare placed a stent in the right coronary artery to get blood flowing to the heart muscle within 30 minutes of arriving at Bronson. He put in a balloon pump to help rest his heart.

During the treatment of his heart attack, the team had Dr. Alphonse DeLucia from Bronson Cardiothoracic, Vascular & Endovascular Specialists consult on the case. Bill had five severely blocked arteries and was not getting enough blood to his heart.

“Epic – our electronic health record system – was very beneficial in Bill’s case,” Dr. DeLucia shared. “It allowed me to access his medical history information and coordinate his care with others on the team. This shows how having one centralized health record can really help the medical team work together, especially in extreme situations. It allows us to provide comprehensive and collaborative care for the patient.”

After the stent was placed, Bill was stabilized and the team worked quickly to prepare him for open heart surgery. Dr. DeLucia sat down with Bill and his wife to discuss the procedure that he would need – a quintuple bypass. This is a surgical procedure to clear the blockages in the heart’s arteries to help restore normal blood flow. Numerous tests were run to see how extensive the blockages were in Bill’s heart and to make sure he was healthy enough to undergo the surgery.

“It was a whirl wind,” Bill recalled. “I had the utmost faith in the entire team at Bronson, though – especially my heart surgeon, Dr. DeLucia. He made sure I understood exactly what would happen during the surgery, the risks involved and also explained what my recovery would be like.”

Soon after, he was in the operating room and surgery was underway. A quintuple bypass, or coronary artery bypass graft (CABG) surgery, requires taking blood vessels from one part of the body and using them in the heart. In Bill’s case, the blood vessels came from his left leg. These vessels are then used to route (bypass) blood flow around the blockage to the heart.

Bill was placed on a cardiopulmonary bypass machine. This machine takes over for the heart and pumps blood through the body. Medicine is given to temporarily stop the heart so it can be operated on. Dr. DeLucia took the necessary steps to fix the blocked arteries allowing for the blood flow to return back to normal. After a few hours, the surgery was complete and Bill was moved to the intensive care unit (ICU).

“I obviously don’t remember what happened during the procedure but what happened after the surgery is something I will never forget,” Bill stated. “And that would be the continuation of the amazing care that I have come to know and expect at Bronson. The entire team worked together like a well-oiled machine.”

While in the ICU and cardiac surgery unit (CSU), Bill’s care was overseen by Dr. DeLucia, intensivists, hospitalists and specially-trained nursing staff. This also included dietitians who explained exactly what he needed to change within his diet to remain in good health. His stay lasted exactly one week from the time he initially arrived at the emergency department to the time that he was discharged. After leaving the hospital, he received nursing care in the comfort of his own home from the staff at Bronson at Home. He also underwent cardiac rehabilitation at Bronson Cardiac Rehabilitation.

“Lisa from Bronson Cardiac Rehabilitation spent a great deal of time with me,” Bill shared. “She was very thorough to ensure I understood everything in full detail.”

After several weeks of receiving rehabilitation and a follow-up appointment with Dr. DeLucia, Bill was cleared to fully return to a normal life again. He maintains a healthy diet and exercises regularly at the Bronson Athletic Club.

“I just find it all remarkable,” Bill stated. “I underwent a very complex and difficult procedure but even after all that I had endured, I was able to heal quickly and get back to flying my airplane just a couple of months later. I would absolutely, hands down recommend Bronson if you are looking for expert heart care.”