SEATTLE — At Swedish's Heart and Vascular Institute, the care doesn't stop once a patient leaves the hospital. This commitment is exemplified by the unique story of Kenneth, a patient who not only experienced a massive heart attack but became homeless while in recovery.
At 59 years old, Kenneth had come to Swedish with a massive heart attack. He had a history of diabetes, high blood pressure, schizophrenia, as well as a history with prior bypass surgery.
When Kenneth entered the hospital, he was in a state of cardiogenic shock. His heart was barely moving, unable to profuse the rest of his body. The doctors at Swedish supported him with “Maximum Care” which included a ventilator to assist with breathing, and an implantable temporary heart pump. Kenneth struggled with dangerous heart rhythms in the ICU and became critically sick. The doctors and Kenneth's family transitioned him to comfort care, but through lots of diligence and collaboration, the heart team finally stabilized Kenneth’s condition.
“Although it was amazing that we got him stabilized, we faced a difficult decision," says Cardiologist Dr. Debleena Dutt, “at the time he was stabilized to get to a point to go home, we discovered that his family said he couldn't’ return back to his prior home.”
Kenneth found himself homeless in the middle of a complex recovery.
Dr. Dutt was faced with a challenge, "How do we keep someone who is critically ill with multiple organs that have been compromised... how do we make sure that he’s able to take all of his medications, that he’s able to get to all of his appointments? It takes a village.”
For Kenneth, that village included heart failure social worker, Meagan Teutsch.
“At Swedish, we feel it’s really important to provide patients with ongoing social support,” she says. That support includes helping to secure a safe living environment in addition to the support from the cardiac dietitian, pharmacist, and the rest of the cardiac team.
Teutsch has worked with Kenneth secure to safe housing, income, transportation, and mental health counseling. “He’s done incredibly well, she says, “he’s a miracle.”
Kenneth is still in the process of healing, but is feeling better every day, and is developing a business out of his hobby of creating fishing flies.
Kenneth says that through his recovery, he’s become more positive, “I thought I was gone, literally. Everything afterward was a bonus.”
This segment brought to you by Swedish