It was an unassuming July afternoon. Sixty-four-year-old Lee Madsen was mowing his lawn when he started feeling a bit strange, but he continued on. He’d recently had sinus surgery and, before undergoing the procedure, he needed clearance from his cardiologist. Still, this nagging pain, this feeling of discomfort, persisted. So after about an hour and a half, he called a friend who was a retired doctor just to “check in.”
Without hesitation, his friend ordered him to call 911.
Madsen was having a heart attack.
What happened next was a blur as EMTS, EMS and police swarmed his Sparta home.
“The police had an AED and radioed ahead to Newton Medical Center,” Madsen said. “I called 911 at 2:30 p.m. and by 7:30 that night, I was in the ICU with a stent in my heart.”
Before last year, Madsen would been medevaced by helicopter to Morristown Medical Center for such a procedure. In August 2020, Atlantic Health System’s Newton Medical Center launched its percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) program in its newly enhanced cardiac catheterization lab, located in the hospital’s Charles L. Tice Heart Center.
63 lives saved and counting
A “Heart & Soul” event was recently held at Perona Farms to honor the community’s EMS providers and the Newton Medical Center Foundations AED Program, which has saved more than 63 lives to date. The event was an indoor/outdoor celebration taking Covid concerns into mind; rather than the sit-down dinner it once was, this year’s event was heavy on the hors d’oeuvres, with participants mingling at spaced intervals.
“I was honored to be able to partake in this event to thank those who made the procedure that they did on me possible and save my life,” Madsen said. “Who knows if I would have made it to Morristown. Having this right here in Newton has and will help so many people.”
A stent like Madsen received is an expandable metal tube that plays a huge role in treating heart disease. It helps the arteries maintain blood flow to the heart muscle.
“Prior to its insertion, emergency angioplasty was performed, a procedure to open clogged arteries in response to his heart attack,” said a Newton Medical Cath Lab nurse manager who wished to remain anonymous. “The stent was then inserted to keep the opening intact.”
Megan Sandow, Chief Development Officer of the Newton Medical Center Foundation, said the state now allows the hospital to perform emergency heart service on-site, leading to better patient outcomes and care. “As part of Atlantic Health System, we are also connected to Morristown Medical Center,” she said.
Morristown Medical Center is nationally recognized by U.S. News & World Report for cardiology and heart surgery.
The Charles L. Tice Cardiac Center opened in 2005 for cardiac catheterization on an elective basis, Sandrow said. In 2020, state approved emergency angioplasty at the center.
“We were proud to honor Mr. Madsen at the Heart & Soul event,” said Stephen Flynn, Newton Medical Center’s donor relations manager. “He was one of our patients who reached out to the hospital to say thank you after his care.”
As for Madsen, he gets regular check-ups now. He never thought he’d be landed in such a life and death situation on that warm July afternoon.
“I guess you just never know,” he said. “Thank goodness for the Cath Lab.”