Jim Mackinaw | Aortic Valve Replacement & Bypass Surgery Patient

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Jim's Story

Jim Mackinaw, Aortic Valve Replacement & Bypass Surgery PatientThe way Jim Mackinaw sees it, the care he received at Concord Hospital Center for Cardiac Care removed a cloud that had slowed him down and stolen his quality of life.

During an exam four years ago, Jim’s primary care physician, Dr. Katharine Fox, at Concord Hospital Medical Group (CHMG) Pleasant Street Family Medicine, heard a heart murmur — sounds made by the blood circulating through Jim’s heart. Many heart murmurs are considered harmless, but Dr. Fox ordered an echocardiogram so she could monitor any changes in Jim’s heart at future exams.

Last fall, she noticed a change and referred Jim to Concord Hospital Center for Cardiac Care for more testing. Jim and his wife, Claire, already suspected something was wrong. He could only work in their garden or mow their lawn in Penacook for a few minutes before having to rest.

Jim, who is 70, learned that he needed open heart surgery to replace a valve that was clogged with calcium. After the frightening news, Jim and Claire also needed some reassurance.

That came from cardiothoracic nurse navigator Melissa Hogan and Dr. Gerald Sardella of CHMG Cardiothoracic Surgery

Hogan helps anxious patients and their loved ones understand their diagnosis, answers questions and generally supports them through their cardiac care.

“Melissa wears a halo,” Jim said, with a tear in his eye. “She always has a smile on her face. I wasn’t anywhere near as nervous after talking with her and Dr. Sardella.”

Dr. Sardella explained treatment options to Jim and Claire and even advised them to get a second opinion elsewhere if they wished.

“But we felt so comfortable, we knew that we didn’t have to go any further and we knew he was the one chosen to save my life,” Jim said.

Dr. Sardella replaced Jim’s damaged valve with a mechanical valve. He also performed a bypass to restore blood flow around a blocked artery.

While the medical team performed the procedures, Claire received constant updates in the waiting room. It was a continuation of the cardiac team’s focus on including family members in every decision.

“When I had a question, I asked them to elaborate,” said Claire. “But I didn’t have to do it often. They had such good explanations. They prepared you for every move they made.”

Jim, who is a school bus driver, spent four days in the Hospital, three of which were in the Intensive Care Unit. He was impressed that Hogan and Dr. Sardella visited often, and that Hogan called frequently after he was discharged to check on him.

The personal attention was an added special touch to the expert care that returned Jim to the active life he enjoyed before his condition slowed him down and threatened his life.

“There was definitely a cloud,” he said. “But the cloud is gone. I have bright sunshine.”