Fast-Tracked Care: Retired Schoolteacher Enjoying Life After Open-Heart Surgery

Media Contact Joe Poelker
Release Date: 07/22/2015 By St. Anthony's Medical Center

Gary Tissot

Gary Tissot, heart surgery patient

Just one day after he underwent open-heart surgery, retired schoolteacher Gary Tissot was up and walking around St. Anthony’s Heart & Vascular Institute.

"Not bad, not bad at all," said Gary, 69, when asked how he was doing. "Dr. Noda’s popped in several times, and the staff has been fantastic. I couldn't ask for better treatment."

Gary underwent off-pump cardiac bypass graft (CABG) surgery by cardiothoracic surgeon Seiichi Noda, M.D., on June 17 for three blockages. He returned to his home in Affton on June 22. Dr. Noda credits Gary’s fast-tracked care in St. Anthony’s Cardiovascular Progressive Care Unit (CV-PCU) with the speedy recovery.

"Fast-tracked patients have their breathing tubes removed while still in the operating room," Dr. Noda said. "The patients then completely skip the Intensive Care Unit and recover in our Cardiovascular Progressive Care Unit, which is designed to be a more welcoming and quiet environment conducive to rest and recovery."

By contrast, in standard bypass surgery, patients come out of the operating room still using breathing tubes attached to a ventilator. Typically, they spend a few days in the Intensive Care Unit, a busy place where sleep, recovery and family visits can be challenging.

Because Gary received off-pump (or beating heart) coronary artery bypass graft surgery, his heart was not connected to a heart-lung machine, so his heart and lungs continued to function normally during surgery. This lowers the risk of complications and result in a shorter hospital stay.

Nurses in St. Anthony’s Cardiovascular Progressive Care Unit (CV-PCU) are specially trained in critical care. Patients who undergo open-heart surgery must be monitored closely for possible complications such as bleeding, blood pressure fluctuations, post-operative anesthetic issues and pain.

"We’ve also been partnering with nurses in the Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit (CVICU) to provide our nurses with training," said Nicole Mullins, R.N., Manager of the CV-PCU. "They’re doing fantastic – they’ve been working hard to get to this point, and now we’re all very excited to see our care in progress."

"We are fast-tracking patients more and more with the cooperative team effort between the surgery team, anesthesia and the nursing staff,” said Dr. Noda. “For the time being, we will be limiting this approach to CABG patients, but I envision a time in the not-so-distant future that all surgery patients will recover like this."

Gary taught chemistry, anatomy and physiology for 37 years in the St. Louis Public Schools District. After he retired, he served another five years at Harris-Stowe State University in the Upward Bound program. Both his daughters also are teachers, and he has seven grandchildren.

"He’s got a new car waiting at home for him, and he can drive it in four weeks," said his wife, Sharon.