Meet Buzz

Buzz Thomas Defining MomentI would like to thank the nurses and doctors of Crittenton Hospital’s Shelton Heart Center for the great care they provided me this past winter. For the 30 years that I’ve been dealing with heart disease, I haven’t received better care than right here in Rochester, Michigan. I am 72-years young, and my heart problems started when I was 41. I was living in Miami, Florida in May of 1982 when I had my first heart attack while cutting the lawn one hot afternoon. I didn’t recognize the symptoms, except that I couldn’t stop sweating and my chest felt tight. An ambulance transported me to a local hospital where I received my first angioplasty. In retrospect, I shouldn’t have been so surprised: my father died of a heart attack at age 52.

Over the next 25 years I felt pretty healthy – very active in sailing, flying, diving, etc. I made sure to have a stress test about every other year and with 80mg Lipitor my blood chemistries appeared to be in order. After moving to this area in 2003, I selected Dr. Ronald Stewart as my primary cardiologist. Under his direction, my health was excellent; I used the company gym 3 times a week for weight training and the treadmill.

Unfortunately in 2008 I developed progression of my heart disease. Stents were required, and Dr. Samer Kazziha installed 3 stents at Crittenton. Everything went well, and I felt completely healthy. Two years later, more cracks in the dam were forming and more stents patched me up.

Then on February 19, 2014, I experienced more heart burn and shortness of breath, followed by faintness. My wife and I didn’t delay; we drove straight to Crittenton. This time, Drs. Stewart and Kazziha recommended that I have open heart surgery, referring me to the University of Michigan Surgeons at Crittenton: Drs. Bernabei and Fazzalari.

I’m a Crittenton customer…alive and well because of Dr. Stewart. He was absolutely right about recommending surgery and who should do it. My family still remembers the amount of time Dr. Bernabei spent with us the night before surgery and my daughter still raves about the hospital. She called every morning from Maryland and each time the night nurses gave her an update on my condition and with that, a valuable measure of peace of mind. Dr. Bernabei discussed at length the risk involved in dealing with all 3 of my heart issues: blockages in the arteries, a leaky mitral valve, and atrial fibrillation. I’m very grateful he fixed everything. I understand doing so made for a long day for everyone involved.

Three and a half months later, I am back to doing the things that I love and there are pictures to prove it! Thank you, Crittenton Hospital, and to all the doctors and nurses who worked on me.