We live in a rural area – that’s no secret.
While most choose this life for the slower pace, access to health care can sometimes be a challenge.
That’s why Munson Medical Center is trying to make it easier for patients who are having a heart procedure, both before and after surgery.
Michelle Dunaway shows us how in this month’s MedWatch report.
Maria Stephens grew up in southern Germany and is no stranger to hardship.
She says as kids they would, “Sit up watching the Russian tanks on the mountains and the American tanks on the south of us going up and down the roads. They were going like 10 miles apart the Americans and the Russians at that time. And not knowing every day we were told the Russians are moving closer down the mountain and we were scared to death when they came it was lots of bad things.”
The strong, resilient woman made her way to Falmouth, where she found a life she loved.
She says “I have everything right here it’s a nice community, Falmouth is very, very nice and caring people that’s one of the things very caring people.”
But as the years passed, Maria found hardship once again, trying to care for her sprawling property.
“I was slowing down,” she says, and she would always say it was because of her age. She hired someone to plow her driveway in the winter last year. Then in the spring, she says she noticed herself getting short of breath as she started cleaning up her yard.
A trip to her primary care doctor led to a diagnosis.
He told her she had a problem with her heart, a hard heart valve. He told her what to expect – basically if she didn’t do something, she would end up in a nursing home.
Thankfully, Maria was a good candidate for the TAVR procedure, a minimally invasive aortic valve replacement.
Dr. Nick Slocum says, “We have utilized this procedure to treat aortic stenosis patients from all of the family of Munson hospitals from as far as the eastern U.P. to south of Cadillac to the Alpena direction. We treated patients from really all the satellite hospitals that Munson is affiliated with.”
And while patients like Maria have their surgery at Munson Medical Center in Traverse City, much of the pre- and post-op care can be done closer to home.
Dr. Slocum says “The prime population that we’re talking about this is an elderly group that has travel and mobility issues. They have to rely on either themselves, children, different ways of getting to TC so it can be tough. The more you can do closer to home is way better.”
Maria made it through the surgery with flying colors.
She was up 5 hours after the surgery walking the halls. She was home 3 days later getting things done all by herself.
And today she’s still getting things done, feeling better than ever, and appreciating all that life has given her.
She says she’s so comfortable here, adding, “If you want to work and you want to get ahead you can really do it here.”