To say Butch led an active lifestyle would be a huge understatement. Regarded as an example of fitness by family and friends, he was an avid kayaker and worked out five days a week. Just three days before his heart attack, he ran ten 100-yard dashes in 12 seconds each.
“It (the heart attack) was quite a surprise,” says the retired firefighter. “I was really of the understanding that if I did everything right — if I worked out, ate right, never smoked, didn’t have high blood pressure and my cholesterol numbers were good — I wouldn’t have this problem.”
Butch’s cardiologist, Dr. Brian Kaminsky, recalls his patient’s anxiety when he arrived in the emergency room at Bon Secours Memorial Regional Medical Center.
“He came to me in the early stages of a heart attack,” says Kaminsky. “I could see the anxiety on his face… on his wife’s face. And I told him we were going to take him up to the cath lab, identify the artery that was closed and open it up. And I told him in no short order we’d have him feeling like a million bucks.”
True to his word, Dr. Kaminsky found a 99 percent blockage in Butch’s right coronary artery and quickly inserted a stent to provide instant relief.
“I felt like I could get off the operating table and go run,” says the Hanover resident. “The people at Memorial Regional were amazing… they really were. From the onset of my symptoms to the time they started the catheterization was probably 65 minutes. That’s awesome. Dr. Kaminsky couldn’t have done any better.”
Less than a month later, Butch says he backs to normal, but he’s been careful to follow the doctor’s orders.
“I feel like I can do whatever I did before, but I’ve been a good patient. I haven’t gone lifting weights and haven’t gone kayaking yet. But I think I’ll be there very soon.”
Dr. Kaminsky agrees that Butch’s prognosis looks very good.
“He’s doing great,” says Kaminsky. “Every time he comes in, we argue about whether he can be jogging or going on long trips in his kayak.”
For Butch, good help is being able to live your life to the fullest, because you had a good team of doctors and nurses looking out for you to get you back where you needed to be.
Brian Kaminsky, MD
As an interventional cardiologist, Dr. Kaminsky has made a career out of rising to the challenge and thriving under pressure.
“The thing that drives me and that gives me the most satisfaction is doing a good job for the patient,” says Kaminsky, who is also the medical director of the cardiac catheterization lab at Memorial Regional Medical Center. “The more dramatic the illness they face, the more rewarding it is to stop it. And there’s nothing more rewarding than stopping a major heart attack.”
Indeed. If stopping major heart attacks is the measure of success, Dr. Kaminsky and his team at Memorial Regional must find their jobs incredibly rewarding. In 2011, they were rated by Healthgrades as the best cath lab in Virginia. And in 2012, the hospital held the Healthgrades distinction of best overall cardiac program in the state.
Kaminsky attributes much of the hospital’s — and his patients’ — success to Bon Secours’ commitment to innovative technology and compassionate care.
“There’s a drive to always continue to improve,” says Kaminsky. “Not to settle for the way we’ve done it for 20 years, for five years or even two years because there’s always new developments coming around the corner. Bon Secours does everything they need to do to enable me to do my best work.”
One of those developments has been Kaminsky’s adoption of a radial approach (insertion through the wrist) to cardiac catheterization and stenting procedures, which he says often results in less pain, a shorter hospital stay and fewer complications than the traditional femoral (leg) approach.
For Kaminsky, good help is doing the best possible job for the patient, making them better, relieving their anxieties, putting their families at ease and often diffusing the situation with a joke.