Dennis McElhaney

People normally aren’t thankful for kidney stones, one of the most painful experiences a person can have in life. But Dennis McElhaney is thankful for the kidney stone that led to the discovery of four blocked arteries.

“They said I was one of those guys who could have fallen over dead one day from a massive heart attack,” said McElhaney, 56, of Visalia, whose arteries were blocked at 100 percent, 95 percent, 95 percent and 90 percent.

McElhaney is one of the many patients who have been cared for at Kaweah Delta since its open-heart surgery program was established. He was treated by Dr. Sergio Caminha, a Mayo Clinic-trained cardiothoracic surgeon, who is leading cardiac services at Kaweah Delta Medical Center. Dr. Caminha is joined by Dr. Leheb Araim, Kaweah Delta Physician of the Year in 2010. Under new leadership, cardiac patients at Kaweah Delta are experiencing higher-quality outcomes with decreased complications such as a renal failure and re-operation rates. To further improve cardiac care, Kaweah Delta is evaluating affiliation with an academic medical center renown for supporting excellence in the delivery of this vital service.

What sets cardiac care at Kaweah Delta apart from others throughout the Central Valley? Kaweah Delta’s cardiothoracic support team is made up of on-site hospital intensivists (critical care physicians), nurses specially-trained in cardiothoracic surgical and cardiac care and cardiac-trained physician anesthesiologists.

“When something like this happens, you want the best care you can get. I really think I got that at Kaweah Delta, I really do,” he said. Now McElhaney says there will be more time to spend with his wife, son and 6-year-old grandson Benicio.