Avera Medical Minute: Nurse detects patient’s heart attack during check-in phone call

Published: Feb. 14, 2022 at 10:13 PM CST
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - There is an extra focus on heart health this month, with February being American heart month. Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death in the United States and heart attacks can present different symptoms in men and women.

Stella Dambrosi now knows that.

At the start of the year, Dambrosi contracted COVID.

Her symptoms were moderate with congestion and fatigue.

She was enrolled into the Avera@Home COVID Care Transitions team where nurses could monitor her condition from home with daily phone calls.

“To be truthful, at first, I thought, ‘Oh this is going to be a pain in the butt,” said Dambrosi. “But then after they talk to you, and stuff and tell you all the things that might be happening to you or asking questions… and they tell you what to expect because I’ve never been through this before. And they tell you what you can expect to feel.”

After her symptoms waned, Stella was soon cleared to go back to work. But she continued on with the phone calls with the Avera@Home COVID Care Transitions team.

One afternoon, Brenda Soper, Avera’s Director of Clinical Compliance who was helping to fill in on the Avera@Home COVID Care Transitions, called Stella to check-in.

What Brenda heard concerned her.

“I was just following up to see if she was having any prolonged fatigue and stuff, and what she said was she was taking a lot of antacids. And also on her right side, she was feeling pressure off and on,” said Soper, a registered nurse.

That raised a red flag.

“When I was talking to her I felt really uneasy. Because I really felt like she needed to get into the doctor.”

She convinced Stella to get checked out, and Stella obliged.

“And when I walked into the emergency room and they hooked me up, they told me I was having a heart attack,” said Dambrosi.

Stella’s heart attack was detected by a concerned over-the-phone nurse conducting a follow-up consultation for COVID.

That’s something Soper is still wrapping her head around.

“I just, I don’t even know what I felt. But I was so relieved that she followed through and got the help that she needed that she was going to be okay.”

Stella is okay and now taking medication for her heart blockage.

She and Brenda recently meet in person, something that may not have been possible if not for that one afternoon phone call.

“They are a godsend,” said Dambrosi. “Very much so. The stars and God were looking down on me that day when she called me.”

Soaper is just glad she was on the other end of the line to help.

“A lot of times, they really don’t want to have phone calls,” said Soper. “They don’t feel good and we can respect that, but really having that extra set of ears and thoughts and helping them work through those symptoms really does help keep them out of the hospital.”

Stella says she is forever grateful for that phone call, for the Avera@Home program, and especially for Brenda Soper.

“I’m sitting here today possibly because Brenda, it’s as simple as that. And I get to see my three grand kids grow up now, and my daughter, I get to see her a lot longer now.”

To learn more about heart health, and the COVID Care Transitions team, visit Avera.org/MedicalMinute.

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