Published on September 08, 2021

Following Cardiac Surgery, Justice Man Safely Pushes Self in Rehab

George Pappas recoveryChuck Pappas admits he’s always been one to push himself. So, when he got a call early one morning from his son looking for help clearing trees and brush on his Morris riverfront property, Pappas and his wife, Nancy, drove from Justice to lend a hand. 

They made the nearly 50-mile trip even though they had gotten home only a few hours earlier that morning from a Buddy Holly tribute concert in Wisconsin. 

“What are you going to do? We love our kids, and they needed my chainsaw,” said Pappas, 68, retired from construction, but always willing to lend a hand with a project. 

After a day of clearing brush, Pappas and his wife were heading back home when he told her he wasn’t feeling well. He convinced her to stop at “that big, beautiful hospital” along Interstate 355 north of Interstate 80 to get checked out. 

Good thing they did stop at the Emergency Department at Silver Cross Hospital in New Lenox. 

According to Pappas, “They ran some tests, and they said, ‘We’re going to keep you here. We’re trying to figure out how you’re still alive.’ That got my attention.” 

Those tests showed Pappas had suffered a small heart attack, and that coronary artery disease diagnosed and treated with stents 15 years before had progressed to severe multi-vessel blockages in need of surgical repair. 

Pappas, who also was suffering from high blood pressure and high cholesterol, told the admitting personnel he also was smoking half a pack of cigarettes daily, but, “he could quit at any time, and didn’t need any medication or patches.” 

On March 26, George Hodakowski, M.D., cardiothoracic surgeon on staff at Silver Cross Hospital in New Lenox, performed Coronary Artery Bypass Grafting to restore blood flow to Pappas’ heart. 

The surgery went well, and Pappas said the Silver Cross staff was there to support him physically and emotionally. 

“The first time I stood up to walk, they all applauded,” he said. “I haven’t felt this good in years. It even helped my soul.” 

After a week recuperating from the surgery, Pappas was sent home, but not before he was scheduled for his cardiac rehab. Three times a week for six or 12 weeks, Silver Cross’ highly trained cardiac rehabilitation nurses and exercise physiologists review risk factors with patients and discuss lifestyle changes and choices to help improve the success of their treatment. 

Pappas is even more fortunate he receives his therapy at Silver Cross’s newly opened Cardiopulmonary Rehab center on the second floor of Pavilion D. The new center features 3,000 square feet of additional space for rows of treadmills, recumbent bikes and other cardio equipment, all brightly lit by large, spacious windows. 

“The people there are wonderful,” Pappas said. “They push you just a little more each time. And that’s good.” 

Pat Pappas, M.D., cardiothoracic surgeon and President of Cardiothoracic & Vascular Surgical Associates at Silver Cross Hospital in New Lenox, agrees Mr. Pappas (no relation) is recovering well. 

“He has continued to progress very well at home and continues to get stronger in Cardiac Rehab,” Dr. Pappas said. “I am proud of the team, because we are here to help the patients get better and stronger.” 

Thanks to Dr. Pappas and his team, Mr. Pappas will have more time to enjoy his grown children and three grandchildren, and celebrate his 50th anniversary with Nancy in a few years. 

“We are fortunate to have this beautiful place in Silver Cross and beautiful people working there. And I can’t thank the doctors enough. They saved my life.”

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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.