Ramona's Story

In the words of a congestive heart failure patient, enrollment in the St. Joseph Hospital Heart Failure Program is “life changing.”

This past spring, Ramona came into the ER and was admitted for Coronary Heart Failure. “I had gained weight and I couldn’t walk or breathe,” recalls Ramona, who is a former smoker and diabetic. When she was admitted to the hospital, her glucose level exceeded 400. She hadn’t been feeling well but hadn’t gone to see a doctor.

Before leaving the hospital, Ramona and family members met Heart Failure Program Coordinator Sarah Atchison, R.N., BSN, PCCN (Above, left). Sarah taught Ramona about changes she could make to her diet, and gave her literature to take home. She took the advice to heart. Four months later, Ramona’s blood sugar was down to 133, and she no longer required insulin. She has lost 70 pounds, including a lot of fluid, and with a portable oxygen device is able to take walks and do Tai Chi. She’s back to playing Bingo. Ramona is looking forward to rejoining the choir at the Tustin Senior Center, and attending her 55-year class reunion in Wyoming.

She credits Sarah with giving her tools to better health. “I follow a diet low in calories and sodium. Before I ate too many TV dinners and ate a lot of salt and sugar. Now I enjoy fish, chicken and turkey – but just the white meat. And I love fruit,” she says, adding, “I’m glad I’m still here!”

Brent's Story

"Having previously undergone six open-heart surgeries, I wasn't expecting too many differences during lucky number seven, although the location changed and the doctor line-up was different.

A month earlier, I had an angiogram. The results led to the conclusion that surgery would need to be performed within the calendar year. I was promptly set-up with my surgeon-to-be, and I was very confident in him after we met.

During the hospital pre-op appointment I quickly knocked out the required chest x-ray and blood draws. The hospital staff did a phenomenal job of educating me on my condition, what the current procedure was going to correct, what past procedures had corrected, and the future prognosis of my condition. They walked me through the recovery process, literally, as I toured the main entrance to the hospital, the pre-op area, intensive care, and the cardio-renal floor. They even discussed hotel options for my mother, who flew out to be with me. After spending 3.5 hours at the hospital, I felt in control of the situation, which relieved any remaining stress I may have had.

On surgery day, everything went just as discussed. Later that day when I woke up from surgery I felt great, relatively speaking. That was a surprise because usually coming out of heart surgery I felt like a train wreck. The surgery went very smoothly and while recovery was tough, it wasn't the same degree as I had experienced in the past.

I saw both the surgeon and cardiologist regularly throughout my week of recovery in the hospital. When it was time to check out I felt good; I didn't feel rushed or hurried to leave the hospital. The medical team helped me to understand my limitations and when the limitations would be lifted as well as any symptoms to watch for during my recovery at home.

For any patients dealing with members of the Adult Congenital Heart Center at St. Joseph Hospital I would tell them that they will definitely receive excellent care from confident and knowledgeable medical professionals who are on the leading edge. Every step of my open-heart experience, from diagnosis, to pre-op, surgery, and post-op, the Adult Congenital Heart Team at St. Joseph took excellent care of me."

Additional Testimonials

St. Joseph Hospital views every interaction with patients as an opportunity to serve in the tradition of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange. Here's a sampling of patient satisfaction survey comments:

  • "The nurse really was a great help talking to me and keeping me calm during this time. She was wonderful."
  • "My experience at St. Joseph's has always been excellent. Thank you St. Joseph!!"
  • "Everyone at Pavilion are very nice and caring and especially professionals. Thank you, all of you, for caring for my mom. Thank you for all your help. My mom is doing so much better because you care."
  • "From the first day that I went to the Heart Center at St. Joseph Hospital for an echocardiogram test, I noticed that your staff was very professional, polite and showed a concern for my visit. I hope to have medical insurance that my family and I can continue to have St. Joseph Hospital to take care of all our medical needs."
  • "Deanna Carlson was very friendly and did a very good job of explaining my test and information."
  • "Can't remember names but your staff members are all angels. They make you feel like everything's going to be ok!"
  • "In regard to the Cardiac Rehab Dept. and the program, it's excellent! I'm so grateful to my doctor for recommending it! It was truly a great benefit to me. It helped me both physically & mentally. The staff is excellent, caring & kind."
  • "The nurses go above and beyond there calling and truly show a genuine concern and interest in the folks the care for, my time went by so quickly I wish I could have stayed longer. Many Thanks and God Bless."