Chuck Gerity - Heart Attack Survivor
It was a warm summer day. Chuck Gerity had just returned from the gym and was looking forward to a swim. A familiar face in the community, Chuck is a retired police officer and now works as vice president of operations at Holy Name Medical Center. After his usual bowl of Cheerios, he felt a strange sensation in his chest. Since he had just finished working out, he dismissed it as a muscle spasm. But the 'uncomfortable feeling,' as he termed it, didn't go away.
"I just didn't attribute the discomfort to anything related to my heart," Chuck said.
He had recently gotten a clean bill of health from his family doctor. He told his wife, Kathie, who is a mobility intensive care nurse at Hoy Name, what was happening. She checked his pulse, found it irregular, and suggested they call 911 and go to Holy Name.
But Chuck decided to lie down to see if the discomfort would go away.
Meantime, Kathie thought she would call some of the medics she knew in the area to have them drop by and check him out. But she never got the chance. Chuck started having a heart attack.
"He began to have a seizure," she said. "I screamed for my son in the next room to call 911. I pulled Chuck off the bed and put the old protocols that I had been taught into action. I struck him hard below the chest and brought him back. But after two breaths, he started to go back out again. I did CPR and thumped his chest again."
For the third time, Chuck began to go out and this time, their son began working on him and performing CPR. It was then that the police arrived with a defibrillator. (It was actually one of Chuck's initiatives when he was with the force to have defibrillators installed in police vehicles.) Once they shocked him, Chuck came back and his heart returned to normal rhythm.
"I was a desperate person who knew what to do," Kathie said.
Chuck was transported to Holy Name and in just 10 minutes, he was in the cardiac catheterization lab where the blockage in his artery was removed and a stent was inserted.
"I couldn't believe how my worlds had come together here," Chuck said. "These were my cops, using defibrillators I helped to mandate as equipment, paramedics from my hospital and an ER I helped to build."
It seems like all the stars were aligned for Chuck on that day.
"I was home, our sons were home, the police got here when we needed them and we got into the cath lab quickly," Kathie said. "Chuck has always taken care of himself. But sometimes, a clogged artery just happens and it can't be explained. He sailed through cardiac rehab and luckily, experienced no damage to his heart muscle."
Currently, Chuck is back at work and exercising at HNH Fitness, Holy Name's medically based fitness center. After being through this experience, Chuck has some advice.
"You can't take anything for granted."
Holy Name Medical Center's comprehensive cardiovascular program offers a wide array of preventive, diagnostic, treatment and rehabilitation services. The multidisciplinary cardiac team includes board-certified cardiologists and interventional cardiologists, neurologists and emergency medicine physicians, specialized registered nurses and exercise physiologists, registered and certified diagnostic technologists and technicians, rehabilitation specialists, and a specially trained support staff.
Holy Name Medical Center became the first hospital in Bergen County, NJ, to offer radial catheterization through the wrist, affording considerable benefits for eligible patients. The medical center's cardiovascular program is certified by the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation.