Dr. Erik Miguel should have been home.
Actually, the emergency medicine doctor could have been working anywhere
but Visalia after completing Kaweah Delta Medical Center's three-year
emergency medicine residency program in June of 2017.
But the Utah native decided to remain at Kaweah Delta and make Visalia
his home. This put him in the right spot at the right time to help save
the life of a stranger having a heart attack outside the hospital more
than an hour after Dr. Miguel’s night shift ended on Nov. 20, 2017.
"That's why I went into this, to help people, even when I'm
not working," Dr. Miguel said.
While walking to his car in the physicians' parking lot on the corner
of West and Willow streets, Dr. Miguel encountered a man in obvious distress
who was searching for the Emergency Department, located on the other side
of the hospital.
The man, 67-year-old Visalia resident Lee Guild, was clutching his chest
in pain. Lee had just completed an early-morning workout at The Lifestyle
Center and was on his way to work as a controller for a freight brokerage
business west of downtown Visalia. But en route, Lee realized that he
needed immediate medical attention.
That is exactly what Dr. Miguel provided.
Dr. Miguel went above and beyond the call of duty and assisted the ailing
man himself, despite the fact that his shift was done and his wife, a
9-year-old son and daughters ages 6 and 2 were waiting at home.
Lee said he is not sure what would have happened if he would not have crossed
paths with Dr. Miguel. "The way my heart was, and how quickly things
were going south, it could have been a very different outcome," he said.
Dr. Miguel began walking Lee to the ED while assessing his condition. As
they walked, Dr. Miguel could tell that Lee was getting worse as he grew
weaker and became sweatier.
Once they entered the hospital through the Acequia Avenue entrance, Dr.
Miguel realized that Lee could not walk any farther. He flagged down a
nurse, got Lee onto a gurney and whisked him into a trauma bay.
The cardiologist on duty, Dr. Aditya Verma, immediately rushed Lee to the
Cath Lab and put in two stents that saved his life. Lee said he was told
that he had 90-95 percent blockage in two major arteries to his heart.
Dr. Miguel said there is nothing like being able to help someone.
"That's why we do it. Any other physician would have done the
same thing. We're there to help people," he said.
Days later, Dr. Miguel felt compelled to call Lee and see how he was doing.
Lee was pleasantly surprised by the call, and impressed by Dr. Miguel’s
display of personal compassion.
"That meant a whole lot to me. You don't normally get that from
doctors,” he said. “He said he was glad things worked out
because my case was the real deal."
Lee told Dr. Miguel that he was recovering and doing fine and was amazed
that it only took roughly an hour and 30 minutes from the time he bumped
into Dr. Miguel until the stents were put in. "As I thought about
it later, it was surreal how quickly it happened," Lee said.
Dr. Miguel and Lee say they believe that it was divine intervention that
Dr. Miguel was running more than an hour late that morning to update charts
after a busy night.
"He told me he thinks God put us in each other's path that day,
and I agree," Dr. Miguel said. "It was one of those experiences
I'll never forget. Hopefully, I can help more people in the future."