Health Care

See something, say something – and send them to the ER


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Sometimes caregivers can impact lives of patients in ways they never expected. Thankfully for Jose Fernando Toro, a man in his 60s, he met a caregiver who was ready to help in unexpected ways.

It was an eventful day for Toro when he attended class at the AdventHealth Diabetes Institute in Orlando. Not only did he learn about diet and nutrition, but he also received a lifesaving lesson about using superior observation skills courtesy of Elizabeth Arroyo, R.N. and nurse educator.

“While instructing him on proper procedures for dealing with diabetes, I saw [Toro] presenting signs of an active heart attack,” said Arroyo. “He kept moving his shoulder and looked uncomfortable. When I asked, he said he had a stabbing, aching pain radiating through his left arm and toward his jaw.”

Toro’s discomfort was enough for Arroyo to set aside her diabetes lesson and focus her attention on the patient’s immediate needs. The situation grew more serious.

“I thought it was a NSTEMI [Non-ST segment elevation myocardial infarction], which could lead to a full-blown heart attack,” Arroyo said. “I encouraged him to go to the ER right away.”

Toro went to the ER to get checked out. A cardiac catheterization revealed clogged coronary arteries on both the right and left sides of his heart. A stent was put in to clear the blockage, and Toro was home again in 48 hours.

Toro is continuing advanced care with a cardiologist and had a follow-up appointment within a week to monitor his progress. Arroyo said Toro had a full work up and more bloodwork. The cardiologist has administered additional stress tests, and Toro checks his diabetes – his only other health factor – by staying more in tune with a better diet and moderate exercise.

“I love to see it,” Arroyo said. “He is determined to be heart healthy, and the continued care is keeping him on track. What I noticed in the classroom took him straight into the ER and now he is on a healthier path with better lifestyle choices, blood pressure and cholesterol medication. Any education that we can offer them, we’re there for the patient.”

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