Anita’s Story: Grateful For a Full-Service Hospital

Anita Scott Jones keeps a small globe spinning at the center of a table in her office.

She says it's to put life in perspective – to remind her and others that “the world's going to turn with or without you, but you're still important, even in this big, vast world.”

Anita, experienced three cardiac incidents in the spring and summer of 2018 – the last of which stopped her heart for 42 seconds. She received all of her care at Atrium Medical Center.

“They say lightning doesn't strike twice. Well, for me it struck three times: March. April. July,” she says. “To know that I've been given more time, however short or long that time is, if I can help impact somebody else's life, that's what I want to do. And if I can help educate people about Atrium – the jewel that we have in this community – then that's what I want to do.”

For several weeks starting in January 2018, Anita's body struggled to recover from what felt like an upper respiratory infection. She took multiple rounds of antibiotics.

One evening that March, during a meeting with her pastor, she experienced profuse sweating, vomiting, and heart palpitations. She waited out her symptoms in a restroom for about 20 minutes and left feeling soaked with perspiration.

Left Breathless

About three weeks later, Anita was across the street from Atrium when she got into her car and felt like she couldn't breathe.

“Before that, it was very difficult to walk without me being very winded, and it just progressively got worse,” she says. “When I couldn't exhale or inhale, I drove around to the emergency room, got up enough strength to call campus security for help, and they came out and brought me in.”

Anita spent the next week in the cardiovascular intensive care unit at Atrium. Her care team found no blockages in her coronary arteries - but discovered that her heart had been damaged by viral cardiomyopathy.

The illness she endured earlier in the year was a virus that attacked her heart.

Anita's care team instructed her to wear an external defibrillator, called a LifeVest, to determine whether she, now with a weakened heart, would benefit from having a permanent pacemaker implanted.

Sandeep Gupta, MD, an electrophysiologist specialist at Atrium, treated Anita. He explains that most patients diagnosed with weak hearts are put on medication for at least three months to evaluate the need for any kind of permanent device.

If the patient’s condition reverses or improves, a permanent device will not be needed, he said. “The flipside of that is that some people could have an event while they're waiting, and that could be a terminal event. That's why this wearable defibrillator was invented.”

A Life Saver

Anita says the LifeVest was cumbersome, but she's grateful she wore the device. Because without it, her next cardiac event on July 4, 2018, could have been fatal.

“Some of our employees were participating in the Fourth of July parade here in Middletown, and I got out of my car, and I felt my body sort of go vertical,” she recalls. “Folks who were there said I slammed into the side of my door and then slammed straight back on the concrete pavement on Verity Parkway, and I have no recollection.”

That's when Anita's heart stopped for nearly three-quarters of a minute before the LifeVest fired to restart it.

“God, through the vest, saved my life,” she says.

Anita had a permanent pacemaker implanted the next day. Now, she stresses the importance of compliance with medical orders.

“Technology helps to save lives, and I want to help people to be compliant,” she says. “You hear people say that phrase about impacting just one person, but I think that's the crux of it – paying it forward one person at a time, saying, 'Your life matters, and you need to treasure it.'”

Thankful For a Full-Service Hospital

Anita also expresses gratitude that Atrium Medical Center is a full-service hospital.

“I think so many people think of this as just a community hospital, but we're trying to educate the community on what a valued resource this full-service hospital is for our community,” she says.

Atrium is a Level III Trauma Center[Services/Emergency-and-Trauma/Atrium Level III] and has been certified as a chest pain center by the American College of Cardiology Accreditation Services.

As an accredited chest pain center, the hospital uses evidence-based procedures developed by leading experts in cardiac care to reduce time to treatment in the critical early stages of a heart attack.

“Time is of the essence, and I'm just grateful that we have a full-service hospital right here in this community,” says Anita.

Dr. Gupta, who has practiced in Middletown for more than 20 years and has seen the hospital expand its services during that time, agrees.

“We weren't able to perform many of these procedures not too long ago, so people in the community may or may not necessarily be fully aware that the hospital has matured, at least from a cardiac standpoint, from a very basic hospital to a full-service cardiac hospital,” he says.

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Every moment of your life depends on a strong, healthy heart. The Premier Health cardiology and vascular services team is here to help you, each beat of the way, with prevention, diagnostic, treatment, and rehabilitation services in our hospitals, outpatient centers, and medical offices across Southwest Ohio.