The beginning of a new year is a time to look back and reflect on our accomplishments, challenges and the improvements we want to make. This is the time when we, as a nonprofit organization, ask ourselves the most critical question: Are we making a difference?
This year, the answer came to us in a simple but meaningful thank you note sent by one of our patients: Don Saito.
Don shared his story with us:
“About three months ago, I started getting chest pains whenever I’d exert myself. It would start out slowly, and get worse and worse. If I stopped to rest, it would ease off, and I could continue doing what I was doing until it happened again. Sometimes, the pain would come back within minutes; other times, the pain would stay in the background for a fair while before coming back.”
Once Don realized that this wasn’t temporary, he decided to make an appointment at the CompreCare Health Center. Dr. Nghi Luu soon diagnosed Don with angina pectoris, or “slow angina.” She put him on medications for high blood pressure, blood thinning, cholesterol control, blood sugar control (since he was also pre-diabetic), and nitroglycerin pills in case he should experience more chest pains. She also ordered x-rays and a stress test at the Santa Clara Valley Medical Center. When the tests were done, the specialists looked at the results and decided to keep him in the hospital overnight to do an angiogram the next day. The results were not good; Don had several blockages in three of his heart’s main arteries and there was only one way out: open heart surgery.
In the midst of his complicated health situation, Don felt lucky that this happened now and not a year ago before the Affordable Care Act was in place and Gardner became his health care provider. “I lost my job in 2009 and, like millions of Americans, had no insurance until last year. Without insurance, I might have waited until I got an actual full-on heart attack, and maybe wouldn’t be here to tell the tale.”
Today, Don is recovering well from the surgery and is very thankful for the excellent care he is receiving from the staff and doctors at Gardner. He said, “They accurately diagnosed my condition, and diligently referred me to specialists who confirmed and refined the diagnosis to one indicating that I needed major surgery. The folks at Gardner have literally saved my life.”
I know that in addition to Don’s story, there are countless other stories that reflect the exceptional quality of services that our clinics have provided this past year. It’s with a sincere heart that I want to thank everyone for a job well done and challenge all of us to do the same in 2016. Because when we reflect on our accomplishments a year from now and ask ourselves again, Are we making a difference? we want that answer to be YES!