By Michael YEGHIAYAN
The many facets of heart health took center stage at Glendale Memorial Hospital on Thursday when the hospital’s cardiac unit celebrated 2014’s “Kings and Queens of Hearts.” The 19th annual event showcased a number of the services provided by the hospital, including screenings for body fat percentage, cholesterol and glucose levels.
Additionally, information was provided to help attendees improve their heart health by becoming more physically active and improving their nutritional habits.
Those crowned Kings and Queens of Hearts were individuals who best represented commitment to overall heart health.
Much of the day’s focus was centered on preventative care, with a number of nurses, nutritionists and cardiologists on hand for examinations. Any patients with potentially serious issues were referred to a doctor for further testing.
In addition to the medical treatment and preventative health consultation, manager of Cardiac Fitness and Non-Invasive Cardiology Michelle Galanti stressed the hospital’s dedication to their patients’ emotional care under the umbrella of “human kindness.”
“When a patient bonds with us it helps them feel more comfortable with the treatment they are getting and they start to trust us,” she explained. “When they trust us, they start to believe what we are telling them. They begin to really understand that if they do certain things they are going to get better and that is empowering them, and we are really here to empower the community.”
Among the honorees was heart patient Rudy Donofrio, a Glendale resident who suffered a heart attack just outside of Glendale Memorial Hospital in August. The incident’s close proximity to the hospital contributed to his treatment and helped Donofrio make a full recovery. In recent months, he has rededicated himself to a lifestyle that will help maintain a healthy heart.
“You have to have it in your head to consistently eat better and get in a few days of exercise every week. Walking more, good eating habits, it all makes you feel better,” said Donofrio. “Recovering here has helped me a lot. You are around therapists who know what they are doing. I could go other places but I am very comfortable here.”
Even after losing insurance coverage of the facilities, Donofrio has remained dedicated to his rehabilitation.
“People have to get it in their heads that they need to exercise and eat right,” he continued. “There is no other way.”
Emergency Room technician Howard Ferguson, who was one of the first responders the day of the heart attack, commented on Donofrio’s impressive perseverance.
“He was unconscious but we were able to revive him. His heart had completely stopped,” said Ferguson. “Our goal is to respond immediately and determine the best course of action.”
“In my 12 years’ experience, I have never seen a patient take it to this extent after a serious incident like this,” he added.
Rudy Donofrio’s medical emergency served as a symbolic ideal for the entire cardiac unit with successful treatment, followed by rehabilitation that gives way to a renewed commitment to preventative health and reformed habits.
“What we aim to do is restore the quality of life. People can exist after they have all the treatments,” explained Galanti. “The doctors can fix the problem but they can’t cure the disease. The disease will continue to carry on unless people address their exercise habits or their eating habits … unless they stop smoking. Without those things it will be a recurring cycle.”
After immediate threats to cardiac health have been attended to, the goal shifts to long-term and sustainable heart habits.
“People don’t necessarily want to change. They get fearful of having to stop doing something that they have been wanting to do and make it bigger than it should be,” Galanti said. “What we have the opportunity to do here is teach them that there is nothing better than feeling healthy.”
The King and Queen of Hearts is a free event and open to the public. For more information, visit www.glendalememorialhospital.org.