Patient Thanks Wellington’s ER and Cardiac Team for Quick Response

March 9, 2023

Doctor holding an animated heartChuck Acker, 72, was enjoying life to the fullest in Palm Beach County. He went golfing, hunting and fishing, biking, jogging, kayaking and tennis. Then, on April 6, 2022, he had a heart attack.

He went to the ER at Westlake after experiencing chest pain that radiated to his back. An EKG was performed, and after a prompt examination, he was immediately transferred to Wellington Regional Medical Center. He was in the midst of having a specific type of heart attack known as a STEMI. A STEMI may be more dangerous compared to other types of heart attacks because there is a total blockage of one of the arteries that supplies oxygen-rich blood to the heart.

“I had no previous issues with my heart, I jogged five miles a day,” explained Acker. “I do recall feeling short of breath and fatigued about 60 days prior to the attack, but never considered it was my heart.”

Acker’s cardiac team, led by Lawrence Lovitz, MD, performed percutaneous angioplasty, a procedure used to open clogged heart arteries. Angioplasty uses a tiny balloon catheter that is inserted in a blocked blood vessel to help widen it and restore blood flow to the heart. In addition, Chuck had two wire meshed tubes, or stents, placed to help keep the newly opened area from narrowing or closing again. Two days later, he returned to the cath lab for a planned third stent.

“About 85% of a heart attack’s damage occurs during the first two hours, so acting quickly by calling 911 may reduce or prevent heart damage,” said Tammy Levasseur, RN, Cardiovascular Coordinator, Wellington Regional Medical Center. “Chuck’s outcome could have been much different if it hadn’t been for the quick diagnosis and treatment protocol he received in the ER and at the hospital.”

Acker spent six days in the hospital where he said he received wonderful, personalized care under the direction of Peter Zijlstra, MD and his cardiologist Daniel Amaez, MD. “I did not feel like a number. The nursing staff was available whenever I needed them and was attentive, pleasant and very professional. The hospital saved my life, and my family and I are grateful.”

Today, Acker is on the road to recovery. My breathing has improved dramatically and fatigue has diminished notably,” he added. “I have Type 2 Diabetes that is tough to manage at times. My primary care physician is trying different medications to control it.”

Levasseur cannot emphasize enough the importance of knowing the symptoms of a heart attack and immediately calling 911 if heart attack symptoms occur. Don't drive yourself or another person to the hospital. “A heart attack is a medical emergency. Time is MUSCLE! Timely treatment can minimize damage to the heart muscle and lower the risk of complications and death.” 

Wellington Regional Medical Center is accredited by the ACC for Chest pain, PCI and Resuscitation. The ER at Westlake recently was recertified by The Joint Commission and earned a certificate of distinction. The cardiovascular team focuses on efficient and effective care of our acute coronary syndrome patients. Our multidisciplinary teams work together to establish high-quality processes throughout the continuum and share highly valued, sustainable performance. ACC accreditation and The Joint Commission certification demonstrate the facilities commitment to quality and dedication to providing exceptional cardiac care to our valued patients.