Published on February 14, 2020

1st or 101st Open Heart Surgery:

Patients Get Unrivaled Heart Care Close to Home at Silver Cross

Last May, Pete Grossi of Lockport learned that his heart disease made him a candidate for open heart surgery at Silver Cross Hospital in New Lenox.

Pete and Jennifer Grossi
Pete Grossi of Lockport, Silver Cross Hospital’s very first open heart surgery patient, poses with his wife Jennifer nine months after his historic surgery. 

The news was delivered by renowned cardiothoracic surgeon Patroklos (Pat) Pappas, a highly respected surgeon who’s performed more than 25,000 heart surgeries over the past 25 years.

Then the 55-year-old public works employee learned he would be the very first open heart surgery patient at Silver Cross.

His immediate reaction was an emphatic “no!”

But then he remembered back to 2015, when he suffered a heart attack at age 50, and heart specialists at Silver Cross saved his life by inserting stents to re-open some clogged arteries.

Soon, his cardiologist, Dr. Joseph Stella, was on the phone with him supporting the option to have the surgery at Silver Cross, noting that the hospital’s heart surgery program had received unanimous approval by the Illinois Health Facilities and Services Review Board as a beneficial and needed heart service for the community.

What’s more, the hospital’s state-of-the-art technology and expert support heart team, from diagnostics through rehabilitation, would save Grossi and his family from having to be transferred to another hospital for the surgery.

“I realized that I was in good hands whether I was the first or the 101stth patient on the schedule to receive life-saving surgery,” Gross explained.

Fast forward nine months, and Grossi is back on the job, following a healthy diet (along with his family), and keeping tabs on his heart health with Dr. Stella. And the hospital recently performed its 100th open heart surgery.

Heart Diagnosis Came as a Surprise

Even though Grossi had a family history of heart disease that went back generations, and he’d been prescribed blood pressure medications since he was a child, the diagnosis still came as a surprise…especially since he didn’t drink alcohol or smoke, and rarely ate red meat.

As a young man, Grossi was a weightlifter and carried more than 235 pounds over a large frame, but healthy foods were always in his meal plan.

“Truthfully, I was feeling pretty good and was planning on some joint surgery ... not a quadruple bypass surgery!” he joked. “I’m glad I listened to the experts.

“I can’t say enough about the clinical and personal care I received during and after surgery through rehabilitation,” he added. “The nurses took such outstanding care of me and my family too. My wife, Jennifer, and 15 members of my family were with me that day and were so supportive throughout my entire recovery. The heart care team understood we are a close family and helped us all understand what recovery meant; motivating us all about healthy lifestyle choices.”

At Silver Cross, every heart patient receives an individualized care plan that provides education and guidance on everything healthy from menus to exercise tips.

“I got to know them all, and it was an excellent experience!” Grossi added.

Less than nine months after Silver Cross introduced its program, the 100th patient recently had lifesaving surgery at Silver Cross.

Future of Heart Care at Silver Cross

Silver Cross Hospital recently embarked on constructing a 33,000-square-foot, 2-story addition on the east side of the hospital that will include:

  • Two (2) cardiovascular operating rooms
  • Two dedicated open heart operating rooms
  • A hybrid room for minimally invasive heart procedures
  • Two dedicated recovery rooms
  • A dedicated patient elevator to the hospital’s new 16-bed cardiovascular unit
  • Four cardiac echo and stress-testing rooms
  • An advanced electrophysiology lab to treat abnormal heart rhythms
  • And added space for future growth

When construction is complete in late 2020, Silver Cross will have the ability to provide innovative, multi-specialty care for patients with advanced and complex coronary disease. This includes surgery to correct the abnormalities of the heart structure such as repairing and replacing aortic and mitral valves.

Historically, open-heart surgery has been the common method for treating structural heart disease; however, minimally invasive valve replacement now provides a viable alternative to patients for whom conventional surgery is considered too risky—and offers the potential benefits of lower risk of infection, less trauma to the chest and heart muscle tissue, reduced length of stay in the hospital, and a quicker recovery.

For more information about heart care at Silver Cross, visit

Physicians on Silver Cross Hospital’s Medical Staff have expertise in their areas of practice to meet the needs of patients seeking their care. These physicians are independent practitioners on the Medical Staff and are not the agents or employees of Silver Cross Hospital. They treat patients based upon their independent medical judgment and they bill patients separately for their services.