Cross-county Collaboration Saves Heart Attack Patient’s Life
On March 24, 2015, Sherry Ohrel, 68, woke up in the early hours of the morning to excruciating chest pain. Her husband, Michael, quickly called 9-1-1. An ambulance rushed her to Progress West Hospital, a short 10 minute drive from her home in O’Fallon.
“The last thing I remember is seeing the gurney coming into my room,” says Sherry. “And two days later, I woke up in the hospital.”
What Sherry doesn’t remember is that she arrived at the emergency room with a blockage in her left artery, that required immediate cardiac intervention. “We stented the artery in the catheterization lab and stabilized her,” says Michael Missler, DO, a BJC Medical Group cardiologist at Progress West Hospital. “However, the heart attack had caused a hole between the ventricles of her heart, a really rare complication, so we transferred her to Missouri Baptist Medical Center (MoBap), where they could surgically fix the problem.”
Within 12 hours, Sherry had undergone two heart procedures. She stayed at MoBap for a week to recover. Before being discharged, Sherry met with her cardiothoracic surgeon, Joshua Baker, MD, who told her to thank Dr. Missler, because he saved her life.
Three days after Sherry was released from the hospital, she was experiencing difficulty breathing and came back to Progress West Hospital. She returned home only to experience the same symptoms again.
On April 10, Dr. Missler performed an echocardiogram, or echo, a sonogram of the heart. It revealed a tiny hole on Sherry’s heart, which had started opening back up again as the tissue of her heart was weakened from the heart attack.
“Our team worked together to perform a closure procedure that would allow Sherry to be transferred back to MoBap to repair her heart,” says Dr. Missler.
“In cases like Sherry that require really specialized treatment, we’re able to connect them to another BJC HealthCare facility, like Missouri Baptist, that can provide that treatment.”
After six weeks in and out of the hospital, Sherry finally returned home. She was encouraged by Dr. Missler to seek cardiac rehabilitation, which is offered at Barnes-Jewish St. Peters Hospital, to strengthen her heart and improve her condition. She followed through, participating three times a week for three months. She was also fitted with a cardiac resynchronization therapy (CRT) pacemaker, which ensures her heart keeps pumping in sync and can shock it if ever necessary.
Throughout her hospital stay, Sherry was cared for by a multidisciplinary team. “I didn’t meet a single BJC employee who wasn’t a terrific person. Everyone was kind and caring, from the physicians to the cardiac rehabilitation nurses to the staff in Dr. Missler’s office,” says Sherry.
“Dr. Missler truly cares about his patients. He took the time to answer all of my questions and make sure I was comfortable and understood everything clearly.”
To provide patients like Sherry with excellent care, Barnes-Jewish St. Peters and Progress West Hospitals offer full diagnostics, interventional treatment and cardiac device placement. When further care is necessary, they work closely with other BJC facilities to seamlessly deliver necessary care.
“It’s really gratifying knowing that regardless of the level of care someone needs, we can provide it. We all have the same goal — to save our patients’ lives,” says Dr. Missler.
Every six months, Sherry has a check-up with Dr. Missler. Nearly two years later, she’s doing great and her heart is getting stronger every day. Dr. Missler says she is doing everything right: exercising, eating well and taking her
“A lot of people put in time and hard work to save my life and I need to make sure they didn’t waste their time,” says Sherry.
Sherry says she is grateful to Dr. Missler and her entire care team for giving her a second chance at life. She enjoys reading, taking long drives with her husband and spending time with her grandchildren and great grandchildren. Recently, she even was able to take a weeklong trip to Jamaica, where she continued her exercise and healthy eating regimen.
“I am so glad Progress West Hospital is here. If it wasn’t so close, I might not have made it,” says Sherry. “It’s great to have these resources close to home. It was the level of care I needed, right here in my community.”
Schedule an appointment with Dr. Missler or another cardiologist at Barnes-Jewish St Peters or Progress West Hospitals online or call 636.928.WELL.