Text Box: Mended Hearts Inc. ...

Email: oldfield@oldfield.org

Mended Hearts, affiliated with the American Heart Association, is a national nonprofit organization offering the gift of hope to heart patients, their families and caregivers for more than 50 years. MHI members represent the very kind of people they serve – those impacted by heart disease, they draw on personal experience as they inspire and help others. The heart patient and family gain hope by seeing other patients who have survived heart disease and are healthy. MHI members give hope and encouragement to others by providing living proof that persons with heart disease can live full, productive lives.

Spectrum Health’s Fred and Lena Meijer Heart Center is the largest health care service in West Michigan and is located here in Grand Rapids (I live in the suburb of Caledonia). Spectrum’s renowned heart center averages over 1000 heart operations a year. That’s phenomenal and also sad. Sad because there are people who are suffering. That means there are at least a thousand people every year who could be helped by visiting Mended Hearts volunteers of the local west Michigan chapter.

I began forming a Mended Hearts chapter early last year, by contacting several people and ‘working the phones’. Jill Snyder from the Ohio chapter has been an angel helping me through the dozens of questions I’ve been bending her ear with. Tim E. (director of MHI) has been especially good at helping me understand what is needed and Jill has spent so much of her time helping me. For guidance I could not have gone far without the help of regional director of MHI, Jana Stewart. She has helped me enormously. Shirley Kell of the Pontiac Chapter took me ‘under her wings’ to help me become a certified MH hospital patient visitor.

I feel MHI and the members are vital assets desperately needed to help other heart patients (like myself) recover physically and, more importantly mentally. Along with MHI’s work with caregivers it is truly amazing what they’ve done across the country in their local chapters. It’s time to bring that spirit to West Michigan.

I went through Spectrum Health’s heart center at Blodgett (at the time there was no Fred and Lena Meijer center) on a fateful Friday, March 14th, 2003. I was most fortunate to receive treatment from Dr Patzelt and Dr Lojec of Spectrum Health.

When I had my ‘heart event’ and triple-bypass I didn’t have anyone to turn to for questions; particularly those ‘personal’ questions. There are MANY questions you want answered that you just would rather not ask your surgeon or cardiologist. Or even someone to talk to who had suffered through this as well. A MHI chapter and their visiting volunteers would have been a big plus in my struggles to recover. And, I’m sure with others. That is why I have started a MHI chapter in West Michigan. It is much needed.

Before my heart attack and surgery I had not exercised, run, biked or swam of any distance. Absolutely avoided them when I could. Absolutely avoided them when I could. Food and eating habits were terrible. Even after seeing my father die of lung cancer I couldn’t kick my 37 year addition to cigarettes. Until I suffered my heart attack.

After my release from Blodgett, I met with nutritionists, nurses and physical therapists to get me ‘back to normal’ and especially my own caregiver, Deb. I can still remember my first walk after surgery. I thought I was going to die all over again. Deb and I made a decision in those months following my hospital visits to rehab that she and I would change our lifestyles.

Me, Tim, Rita and Janette from Mended Hearts Nat’l office.

“It’s great to be alive — and to help others!”

Dedicated to inspiring hope in heart disease patients and their families.