Patient Stories

Larry Stack

Memorial Volunteer Experiences Great Heart Care

Larry Stack, 79, enjoyed an energetic lifestyle that included volunteering at Memorial Medical Center and attending his grandchildren’s activities. That changed just before Thanksgiving in 2016. Larry was at home with his wife, Judy, when suddenly he lost consciousness, and Judy dialed 911.

I had absolutely no idea anything was wrong.

Larry Stack, 79, enjoyed an energetic lifestyle that includes volunteering at Memorial Medical Center and attending his grandchildren’s activities.

“I had absolutely no idea anything was wrong,” he said.

That changed just before Thanksgiving in 2016. Larry was at home with his wife, Judy, when suddenly he lost consciousness, and Judy dialed 911.

Larry spent four days at Memorial Medical Center undergoing tests to assess his heart function. When he left the hospital, he was equipped with a heart monitor that hung at his belt. Electrodes attached to his chest evaluated his heart’s performance.

During the next month, the monitor recorded two instances in which Larry’s heart stopped momentarily. Although those episodes were minor enough that he didn’t notice them at the time, they signaled to his physicians that his heart needed an extra boost.

In early January 2017, a dual chamber pacemaker was implanted in Larry’s chest. Pacemakers are a common way to treat issues with the rate or rhythm of the heartbeat. These small devices use electrical pulses to regulate those rhythms.

Before, during and after the procedure, his care team offered reassurance and compassion. He wasn’t surprised by the support he received—he’s seen that care in action many times during his 22 years as a Memorial volunteer.

Mitch Rogers, MBA, BSN, RN, administrator of Memorial Heart & Vascular Services, said the friendly, patient-centric culture is one of the factors that makes MMC unique.

“You can sense it when you walk into the building,” he said, citing a recent survey that showed employee engagement levels in the 96th percentile. Part of those efforts include making sure patients understand their condition and possible solutions. 

“The better educated a patient is, the better chance of a successful outcome,” Rogers said.

After recuperating from the procedure, Larry was able to gradually return to his usual activities, including volunteering. Now, more than six months after the pacemaker was implanted, Larry is back in action.

Stack taught school for three decades before his retirement. One of his favorite aspects of volunteering at Memorial is the opportunity to cross paths with former students and their families. Seeing a familiar face helps brighten the day for those patients, he said, and it brightens his own day as well.

“When they recognize you, they smile,” he said.

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