Heart of a Champion

Heart of a Champion

It wasn’t her first open-heart surgery. But in order to keep up with grandkids, keep golfing and simply keep going, Barbara Buchanan needed it to be her last.

“I was in pain. I’d had angioplasties, stents, balloons, then open heart surgery in 1999 and again in 2012,” said Barbara. She knew her risk for heart problems was higher from having been a smoker-and having a family history of heart disease and stroke. But she also knew, as an active woman, that she had an opportunity to keep living a full life."

She’d always gone to bigger hospitals, closer to her Sussex County home.This time, facing a life-threatening clot in the “widow maker” artery, she followed her doctor’s advice to travel to a place where some of the most highly skilled specialists repair the most complex cardiac problems: Jersey City Medical Center.

“My cardiologist, Dr. Preston Hupart, recommended JCMC after I didn’t have a successful (bypass) operation at another hospital. In fact, he had wanted me to go to JCMC then, but I chose a closer hospital for the convenience of my family.”

She wasn’t feeling well afterwards, but had been told it was due to her age and the healing process. When her cardiologist followed up with her, he said they’d missed one of two arterial blockages.

To fix it, he recommended Dr. Tyrone Krause, JCMC chief of surgery.As a cardiothoracic surgeon in New York and New Jersey for the past 25 years, he has specialized in treating the heart, lungs and esophagus-including using the latest minimally invasive techniques for coronary artery bypass and valve replacement. Krause’s focus has been doing complex cardiac surgical repairs like Barbara’s.

For Barbara, that confidence and competence made all the difference. Not only did her team successfully repair her damaged heart, they left her feeling better cared for than ever before.

“I’m great. My energy is back. I’m playing golf four times a week. I’m lucky-and thankful,” she said.“I would highly recommend Dr. Kraus. I had full confidence in him. I’d seen others for this kind of procedure and had nerves. But with him I wasn’t scared at all: there’s something about him. His resume was good too.”

She attributes some of the quality of her experience to the design of the heart center at JCMC, one of New Jersey’s newest hospitals. With a dedicated area just for open-heart surgery, specially trained cardiac nurses and a dedicated step-down unit where patients know they’ll be seen, the focus was noticeably on patients, she said.

“The care here was so much different from the other two hospitals. I don’t have words for it. They couldn’t have been better. They helped me through a very tough time: they were always there for me, 24-7.”

And she knows she can count on JCMC for more than surgery. When cardiac rehabilitation wasn’t going well at another hospital, she made the 1.5-hour drive to Jersey City for help getting back on track with recovery.

“I certainly would recommend people to JCMC. Even if it is a long trip, you go where the best care is,” she said. “How can you say ‘open heart surgery is great,’ but it was:it was a good experience to have it done the right way.”

Now that her energy is back, she’s back to chasing her grandkids to events, golfing at the Crystal Springs Resort community where she livesand traveling with her husband of 50+ years.

“That’s the true test of success: getting her back to a full life,” Dr. Hupart said after receiving a picture of Barbara teeing off on a golf course in Florida. “One thing I love about my job is becoming so intimately involved in people’s lives at such a critical time.”

As an interventional cardiologist, he serves as Director of the Cardiac Catheterization Lab at JCMC. And as a cardiologist, he’s long referred patients to this cardiac hub.

“When you develop a level of trust with a patient, you make your decisions based on what you truly believe is best for each person. I try to match the patient to the doctor: the individual and their disease to the doctor,” Dr. Hupart said. “I have such faith in the doctors at JCMC, there’s no hesitation in recommending it to patients and peers from all over the county.”

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Dr. Tyrone Krause or
Dr. Preston Hupart