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Observant nurse saves patient’s life


La Grange – Harry Blesy entered Adventist La Grange Memorial Hospital’s emergency room complaining of chest pain. An electrocardiogram (EKG) was performed, and the 64-year-old retired police officer was found to be in stable condition and was about to be transferred to the cardiology unit.

But ER nurse Karen Hook, RN, BSN, TNS, thought Blesy didn’t look quite right. She ordered another EKG, which showed a subtle change from the first test. Ten minutes later, a third EKG was performed, showing that Blesy was having a massive heart attack. The emergency room team administered medicine to stabilize him before rushing him to the cardiac catheterization laboratory.

There Dr. Meechai Tessalee, an interventional cardiologist, performed a balloon angioplasty and inserted a stent in Blesy’s left anterior descending artery. Because of the location and severity of the lesion – more than 98 percent of the artery was blocked – this type of heart attack is colloquially known as a “widowmaker.” Very few survive. Blesy likely wouldn’t have survived if it had not been for the quick response of Adventist La Grange Memorial Hospital’s emergency room team.

“If not for Karen’s gut responsiveness and great teamwork, this outcome could have been very different,” said Nancy Burke, director of the hospital’s emergency/ambulatory care services.

Blesy, a resident of unincorporated Willowbrook, is expected to make a full recovery and undergo 12 weeks of cardiac rehabilitation. He is grateful for the care he received.

“What I tell people is don’t have a heart attack. But if you do, have it in the ER with the cardiologist nearby,” Blesy said. “I appreciate Karen’s attention to detail. Someone else could’ve overlooked it or sent me on my way.”

For Hook, the case was all in a day’s work.

“I was just doing my job,” said Hook, a Darien resident and trauma nurse specialist.