Patient Success Stories

Diana D'Andrea

Orland Park resident Dianne D’Andrea suffered for years with pain in her right knee, so she decided to have total knee replacement surgery at the Silver Cross Hospital. Little did she know the Procedural Care Unit (PCU), would aid in saving her life. The PCU consolidates all the traditional procedural areas found in hospitals including surgery, endoscopy, interventional cardiology/radiology. It was designed to place clinical expertise and equipment with dedicated support services on one integrated “platform” to enhance the delivery of quality care to patients.

Members of the Silver Cross Medical Team are gathered with patient, Dianne D’Andrea, who saved her life as a result of their medical expertise and ability to administer care quickly due to the department adjacencies in Silver Cross Hospital’s Procedural Care Unit. Pictured are Orland Park resident Dianne D’Andrea (center) with: Front row- Jen Stevensen, RT; Ish Ahmad OR RN; Andrea Hartong, OR RN; Natalie Stanger, OR RN; Kathy Pechotta, PACU RN. Back Row- Grace Connor, SPPR RN; MaryAnn Hutin, OR RN; John Lindenmulder, OR RN; Mary Egan, IPPR RN; Sheila Buroff, IPPR RN; Pat Kroesch, RN, OR Manager; and Dr. Sheldon Cin, Anesthesiologist.

To begin her preparation for knee surgery Dianne was escorted into a pre-procedural room in Surgery Pre/Post Recovery (SPPR) which is immediately adjacent to the operating rooms (OR) suites on the PCU. Prior to any surgical procedure, patients are interviewed by nursing and anesthesia staff, and are seen by their surgeon one last time before going to the OR. Once in the OR, as Dianne began to receive anesthesia, she developed ventricular tachycardia (V-tach) a fast, irregular heart rhythm that can be fatal. As the V-tach occurred, the heart monitor alarm sounded and her orthopedic surgeon Anuj Puppala, M.D., with Hinsdale Orthopedics, determined she did not have a pulse. He instantly began heart compressions- the time noted at 8:26 a.m. - and the surgical staff called a Code Blue.

At the same time, John Dongas, M.D., was prepping his patient in the nearby interventional cardiology suite. Dr. Dongas is an electrophysiologist who specializes in treating abnormal heart rhythms. He heard the Code Blue and decided to walk down the hall to the OR to see if he could help, and with his assistance Dianne was successfully resuscitated.

At 8:48 a.m., just 22 minutes after the Code Blue was called, Dianne was urgently transferred to the Cardiac Cath Lab for a diagnostic heart catheterization to see if she had blockages that may have caused her cardiac arrest in the OR. Dr. Abdul Sankari, an interventional cardiologist and Dr. Dongas' partner, performed the procedure that indicated her vessels were all clear of any blockages. However, the bottom chamber of her heart was severely compromised resembling what is known as “tako-tsubo”, indicating she was suffering from “Broken Heart Syndrome”.

Broken Heart Syndrome is a temporary heart condition brought on by highly stressful situations. In Japanese, “tako-tsubo” means “fishing pot for trapping an octopus,” and the heart of a patient with this clinical situation resembles this shape. People with broken heart syndrome may have sudden chest pain or think they're having a heart attack. These symptoms may be brought on by the heart's response to a rush of stress hormones.

The nurses who interviewed Dianne in SPPR prior to her procedure all agreed in retrospect that she was extremely nervous, which would explain a state of high emotional stress that could have caused her clinical presentation of “broken heart syndrome”. “In broken heart syndrome, a part of your heart temporarily enlarges and doesn't pump well, while the rest of the heart functions normally or with even more vigorous contractions,” said Dongas. “In Dianne’s case, her heart was portraying all the signs of “broken heart syndrome”, so it was critical that the appropriate medical team assemble as fast as possible. In addition to the expertise of our staff, I believe Dianne’s life was saved because these key medical professionals were able to come together more quickly than ever before due to the fact that the PCU has brought all our areas adjacent and in close proximity to one another.”

Dianne was transferred to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at 9:13am, less than one hour after her cardiac arrest in the OR and after a couple days was discharged home.

“It was amazing to witness our esteemed healthcare team as they provided multi-disciplinary care to Dianne. We had specifically designed the Procedural Care Unit to be an environment with the clinical expertise and equipment readily available when needed to care for critically ill patients and this situation confirmed it was the right thing to do. We never imagined we’d know this so soon after our move, but are pleased Dianne was the beneficiary of our vision,” said Marybeth Antone, Administrative Director of Surgery and Cardiology.

“I am forever grateful to all the physicians, nurses and others who quickly reacted to save my life,” said 56-year-old Dianne. “The high quality care I received from everyone was just wonderful, and I am so relieved that I chose to have my surgery at Silver Cross Hospital.” Dianne is still determined to have her knee fixed and has scheduled her knee surgery. “I have such peace of mind knowing that I will once again be in such capable hands with all the staff at Silver Cross Hospital”.

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.