Heart of an Optimist

Heart of an Optimist

Jack Koval spent a lifetime teaching the children of Jersey City to adapt and succeed in the face of adversity. At age 75, facing the strain of congestive heart failure, narrowed arteries and a blocked aortic valve, he needed some expert guidance himself.

His in-depth research led him to Tyrone Krause, MD and Jersey City Medical Center, where some of the most complex, life-saving procedures are performed in the least invasive way.

“I did my research to find this was the best place to come, instead of going to New York. I give (Jersey City) Medical Center 5½ stars. I’m so glad I chose it—and so glad I chose Dr. Krause,” Jack said. “He spent 2 ½ hours with me when we first met, answering all my questions—before I’d even committed to surgery. That’s unheard of. He really put me at ease.”

It’s easy to understand why Jack chose him. As a board-certified cardiothoracic surgeon who serves as JCMC Chief of Surgery, Krause specializes in treating complex problems that many surgeons don’t feel comfortable attempting. While he’s spent his 25-year career performing open heart, off pump and minimally invasive procedures at some of the leading heart hospitals of New Jersey and Manhattan, Krause credits JCMC with making heart care easier for teams to perform—and easier on patients.

“Of all the hospitals I’ve worked in, JCMC is unique in the sense that all of the facilities for cardiac surgery are very close and on one floor: the cardiac cath lab, anesthesia department, surgery department, the ICU where patients go afterwards. Patients like that they’re not shuttled away to another place.”

As Hudson County’s only comprehensive source of cardiac care, JCMC provides the only local source for open-heart surgery. And it’s much more varied than strictly using traditional open techniques featuring the heart-lung machine. JCMC uses innovative technologies and less invasive surgical methods ranging from the Impella miniature heart pump to off-pump coronary bypass surgery.

“In order to minimize complications, we use devices that stabilize the heart while minimizing the risk of stroke, bleeding and infection,” Krause said.

That’s exactly how JCMC’s cardiac team repaired Jack’sblocked aortic valve: the minimally invasive approach used a keyhole-sized incision, 1.5 inches long, to reach the heart. From there, Krause could chisel out the calcium blockage and replace the valve.

In the process, the cardiac team restored the outlook of a man who spent decades teaching kids to have the best possible perspective. The retired principal and teacher of English and science had lived and worked in Jersey City most of his life, but hadn’t been a patient at JCMC before.

“I was most impressed with the staff. My favorite nurse was Rashna: she could relate, she was caring, sensitive. That was typical of all the people I met at (Jersey City) Medical Center,” Jack said. “Everyone was great, even the anesthesiologists. All the staff was always there before you needed. All the amenities were there. That’s what you want in a hospital.”

Now he’s walking everyday without “huffing and puffing his way around.” A recent summer spent trekking through the Spanish Pyrenees mountains is proof that’s he’s still young at heart—and that it’s hard to keep Jack Koval down.

“I’m 75 years young and loving life. I’m having a positive attitude, and feeling way better having had the aortic bypass by Dr. Kraus,” Jack said. “And if I last another 75 years, I’ll be happy.”

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Dr. Tyrone Krause