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Jim's Story - Alive Today Because of GVH

On May 10, 2022, Jim Bowen’s morning started just like any other. The only difference was that he was feeling some chest discomfort. He joined his wife for their morning walk, ignoring the discomfort and assuming it would pass. After his walk, Jim decided it was uncomfortable enough he should call the Gunnison Valley Health Family Medicine Clinic.

The decision to call the Family Medicine Clinic turned out to be crucial. Jim suffered from a heart attack known as a “widow maker.” The survival rate for this type of heart attack is less than 12 percent when not caught and treated quickly.

When Jim called the Family Medicine Clinic, a staff member spoke to him about his concerns and advised him to go to the emergency room. Jim took her advice and went to the ER.

“I stood inside the lobby of the ER trying to decide if I should go in – at this point I felt a lot better,” said Jim.

Jim debated going home but decided to go see his daughter Holly Rickert, an emergency department nurse at Gunnison Valley Health first. Holly was on duty that day and encouraged her dad to come inside and get checked.

“I saw my dad standing in the lobby, and I thought oh how nice he stopped by to say hi,” said Rickert. “I went out to talk to him. That is when he told me he had some chest pain that morning, so I convinced him to come in and be seen.”

The emergency department staff ran a blood test – which showed his levels of troponin were elevated (which is indicative of a heart damage). They also completed an EKG test. Several hours went by and the staff ran these tests again, showing that the levels were even more elevated.

“At this point Dr. Jason Hogan, and the staff at GVH convinced me (I thought against my better judgement) that I should be transported to Montrose via an ambulance,” said Jim.

The decision to send Jim to Montrose was based on his test results. The tests showed elevated troponin levels and differences in the EKG in the second test. Patients like this need to be evaluated by a cardiologist – and need to have access to a catheterization laboratory in case any interventions are necessary.

Jim was a reluctantly transported to Montrose Regional Health via an ambulance. At this point Jim felt great and reminisced about how the ambulance ride felt “silly.” Jim had initially wanted his wife Maryanne to take him, but the doctors at GVH convinced him that it would not be fair to Maryanne to put that risk on her.

Jim spent the night in Montrose, still feeling as good as he would on a normal day. About 7:30 a.m. on May 11, it hit Jim. The pain was back and way worse than before. Within an hour Jim was taken to surgery where he had a STINT placed. Jim spent two nights at the hospital in Montrose and has since returned home and returned to life as normal. Jim and his wife Maryanne recently spent two weeks in Alaska where they hiked and explored.

Jim’s story serves as a powerful reminder of why each of us should pay attention to changes in our bodies and never hesitate to reach out for assistance from local providers. Even though he was initially hesitant to reach out to his primary care provider at the Family Medicine Clinic, once he made the call everything fell into place.

“[This story] reinforces that we are doing the right thing, and our doctors in the emergency department at GVH are amazing. They are not going to overlook something,” said Rickert.

Jim continues to feel ecstatic about the care he received and expressed that the whole experience could not have been better. “Everyone at the Family Medicine Clinic and the emergency room did everything right,” said Jim.

Once he was admitted and taken into the ER, things moved very quickly, he was seen by the doctor almost immediately.

“I feel like them convincing me to be sent to Montrose and treating it so seriously saved my life,” expressed Jim. “I am here today because of the care I received at GVH.”