After Insurance Switch, Bobbie Gets Successful Heart Valve Repair By Dr. Greg Fontana
By Adam Pick on October 8, 2009
I just received a great patient story from Bobbie Ayala about insurance providers, misdiagnosis, her procedure and Dr. Fontana. Without further ado, here is what Bobbie wrote me:
Adam, I have been reading your book and following the stories in your blogs for over a year. The information that I received dispelled many of the fears I had about heart surgery. I want to share my experience with you.
I am a 57 year old female. I was diagnosed with aortic regurgitation and I also had a 75% colluded coronary artery. I had seen a cardiac surgeon at Kaiser and he was absolutely no help. His recommendation was to “wait and see”. Furthermore, he made some comments to the effect that if I wanted surgery he could schedule it next week. For the record his name was Dr. Pfeiffer (do not recommend). Anyway, the experience was to say the least scary and awful. Then I started reading your book and following your blog. I realized that maybe this surgeon was also incorrect.
In July, I was able to change my insurance from Kaiser to Blue Cross Anthem. With my new insurance, I could choose the doctor and hospital I wanted. First, I checked out the best Heart Hospitals in the United States and determined locally, the best was Cedars Sinai. (I also contacted one of the doctors at Cleveland Heart Institute and was given the advise, “Do not wait!”)
So, with all of my research, I read about surgeons. Dr. Gregory Fontana stood out amongst the surgeons I considered. I liked his warm persona and his qualifications. I was really impressed with the fact that he answered a simple email from me within fifteen minutes of my posting. I made an appointment, visited his office, and scheduled surgery. I was totally confident in his abilities and I felt that he truly cared about his patients.
I had my new angiogram on August 26. My artery was now 90% colluded and the valve was the same. On August 27, Dr. Gregory Fontana performed the surgery. He took the extra time to repair my aortic valve instead of replacing my valve. Doctor Fontana used a vein from my arm for the coronary bypass.
Following surgery, I am grateful that I do not need to take Coumadin for the rest of my life. I will just take two baby aspirin a day.
I had a wonderful heart valve repair experience and would love for Dr. Fontana to get some recognition for his wonderful handiwork. I left the hospital today and I feel wonderful. Further, I totally commend the entire staff at Cedars Sinai. They were without a doubt qualified, personable and helpful.
And, to you, Adam… Thanks for your book and blog.
Jim Hilbe says on October 8th, 2009 at 7:37 pm
Soooo, your Physician at Kaiser Permanente told you to wait! “Go to Helen Waite?” And then, a Physician at The Cleveland Clinic told you NOT to wait? Let me just say, one of my best friends once told me: “Kaiser killed BOTH of my parents.” Obamacare.
Helene Victor says on October 11th, 2009 at 7:11 pm
I had prolapse of the mitral valve with regurgitation for over thirty years. My Kaiser doctor said I did not need to see a cardiologist. Kaiser gave me periodic echocardiograms which were checked by a cardiologist. I was told my ventricles – pumping chambers – were strong. Meanwhile my heart continued to enlarge. A year ago the chords and a flap of the mitral valve tore and I was put into chronic atrial fibrillation and congestive heart failure. After being stabilized, an excellent surgeon repaired my valve and tried various methods, which unfortunately did not work, to get me out of atrial fibrillation. But my mitral valve is fixed and one of the enlarged chambers is almost normal in size. The surgeon, Dr. Han Lee is knowledgeable, skilled, and has a wonderful bedside manner. But I am thinking a switch in insurance policies may have been a wise thing to do, if only for a second opinion.