Minimally Invasive Valve Replacement
Maria Falcon of Tipton knew she had a problem with a heart murmur, but
was unaware of the life-threatening nature of its cause.
“I lost consciousness right in front of my house and fell onto the
dirt road. It was my grandchild that had to dial 9-1-1,” said Maria,
speaking through a Spanish interpreter. With the aide of neighbors, the
ambulance found her and rushed her to the closest emergency room in nearby
Tulare. “I was admitted for tests. With the use of a camera they
saw I needed replacement of a heart valve.”
Soon after the angiogram, Maria was transferred by ambulance to Kaweah
Delta Medical Center for higher level cardiac services. An evaluation
by Dr. Leheb Araim, a thoracic and cardiac surgeon at Kaweah Delta, confirmed
the need for an immediate procedure to replace Maria’s damaged heart valve.
“I received very friendly care from all the doctors and nurses,”
said Maria in a sincere voice. “Everyone was kind and helpful in
answering all my questions. The people who were helping me spoke Spanish
and made me feel at ease and comfortable, I couldn’t be more grateful.”
Maria continues to make heartfelt comments about Kaweah Delta staff whenever
she shares her story. She respects the changes she needs to make in her
life, but is glad to be able to quickly return to spending quality time
with her husband, children, and grandchildren.
Enhancements to the cardiac program at Kaweah Delta allow more patients
who require valve replacement like Maria to undergo minimally-invasive
surgery. When just one valve is affected, the preferred surgical technique
requires only a small incision in the upper right chest rather than a
six-inch opening down the center of the ribcage. Hospital stays are shorter
and recovery times are quicker.
Dr. Araim performed Maria’s minimally-invasive surgery and she was
discharged just four days later. Her cardiac care continued after leaving
the hospital. Kaweah Delta’s home health nurses visited Maria, monitoring
her recovery and helping ensure proper medication dosage.
“The nurses came to my home in Tipton and assured me I was doing
well,” said Maria. “Their visit made me feel special, and
I was pleased with the care they gave me.”
“We offer a full spectrum of cardiac services,” said Robbie
Geide MSN, RN, director of cardiovascular services. “We are able
to diagnose whatever heart ailment a patient may have and treat it either
through preventative medicine or procedures.”
Patients at Kaweah Delta benefit from a cardiologist in the hospital dedicated
to addressing any cardiac issue at a moment’s notice. “This
benefit is specific to Kaweah Delta,” said Geide. “Not every
hospital will have a cardiologist in-house, ready to take care of you
for any of your heart problems.