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Release Date: 3/25/2013

Cardiac team returns retiree to babysitting duties

Bill Griffin and his wife, Ellen, with his grandkids at home in Arnold.

Bill Griffin and his wife, Ellen, with his grandkids at home in Arnold.

Bill Griffin had been feeling tired and out of breath. But he figured it was just the rigors of age, as he kept busy with various chores and hobbies around his Arnold home and helped his wife, Ellen, care for five grandchildren.

“I kept telling myself, ‘well, you can’t do what you could when you were 26,’” he recalled.

Griffin, 66, is retired from the old Chrysler plant in Fenton, where he worked for more than 44 years. His kids have never seen him sick, except when he had the flu, and he hadn’t been in the hospital as a patient in 40 years.

That is, not until the wee hours of a January weekend, when he arrived by ambulance for an unexpected date with one of St. Anthony’s cardiac teams. Led by cardiologist David Morton, M.D., the team defibrillated his heart between 20 to 30 times; resuscitated him twice after he “coded,” or his heart stopped; and inserted a stent in one of his arteries. Later, he underwent coronary bypass surgery. A few days later, he returned home.

“No mere words can ever express the depth of gratitude we both have for Dr. David Morton and his team,” said Mr. Griffin’s wife, Ellen. “There are many other nurses from the Cardiovascular ICU that we very much want to thank also for the excellent care they gave Bill during his stay at St. Anthony's.”

Bill Griffin’s story is one of many patient successes to come out of St. Anthony’s Heart Specialty Center, one of the area’s top-performing heart care programs. It was created in 2011 through a unique partnership between the medical center and The Heart Specialty Associates, a physician practice that includes 13 of the area’s top cardiologists. The Heart Specialty Center provides a seamless continuum of care for cardiac patients: inpatient and outpatient, medical and surgical, prevention through rehabilitation.

“Our team members in the Heart Specialty Center are extremely dedicated and absolutely top-notch, as Mr. Griffin’s care has shown,” said Dr. Morton, who also serves as chief medical officer of St. Anthony’s. “It requires that whole team, going from EMS to the Emergency Department to the Cath Lab, to make it work. All of those pieces have to be working together and in sync.”

“Whenever a challenge comes up – and I’m sure I was a challenge – they were not going to go down without a fight,” Griffin recalled. “They just stayed with it way above and beyond the norm.”

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