Patient Story

Marine Veteran Survives Heart Condition Thanks to Critical Access Hospital

“Not often in this life do you get to thank the people who saved your life.” - David Macoubrie

David Macoubrie, an 85-year-old Marine veteran, has a personal history of heart problems. He has been seeing Saint Luke’s cardiologist Barry Rutherford, MD for the past 36 years and had life-saving bypass surgery in 1997. Now, 23 years later, David is a practicing lawyer in Chillicothe, Missouri. He thought he was doing well and was surprised to experience another cardiac event out of nowhere.

In July 2020, David was out golfing with a friend and began to feel faint. Little did he know that his heart had been fibrillating for two hours. He had to sit and rest for a few minutes and his friend said, “You look like hell.” They finished their game and left. When David got home, his friend called to check in on him and explained what happened to David’s wife, who took him to Hedrick Medical Center – one of Saint Luke’s critical access hospitals.

“When I first arrived, the check-in nurse recognized I had a problem and immediately had me escorted to the emergency room,” David said. “The moment I arrived, the young lady in charge [Nurse Manager Aimee Aukshun] appeared and took over. Her skills appeared to me to be unparalleled and her leadership was obvious. The staff respected her, trusted her, and followed whatever direction she gave."

Emergency medicine physician Paul Rosenthal, DO, came in to examine him and David could tell from his experience reading jurors in the courtroom that the doctor was very concerned. Dr. Rosenthal quickly determined that David had ventricular tachycardia, a fast and abnormal heart rate caused by a problem with the heart’s electrical impulses.

“At any age, it’s a serious condition,” Dr. Rosenthal said. “Ventricular tachycardia is a potentially life-threatening condition that may be an indicator of a heart attack or that they may not be getting enough coronary blood flow to their heart. David presented with symptoms of lightheadedness, chest pressure, and dizziness when he was in the treatment room.”

The medical team at Hedrick sedated David, shocked his heart to get it back in rhythm, and had him airlifted to Saint Luke’s Hospital of Kansas City. He stayed in Kansas City for four days and went home with a pacemaker defibrillator. David was so appreciative of the care he received that he went back to Hedrick Medical Center a month later to personally thank Dr. Rosenthal.

“Not often in this life do you get to thank the people who saved your life,” David said. “I consider myself quite fortunate to get that care. I was very pleased with our local emergency room.”

Saint Luke’s critical access hospitals have quick and easy access to a transfer team that connects with Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute so patients can quickly be transported to the appropriate department upon arrival. Chillicothe, Missouri is approximately two hours away from Kansas City. If it weren’t for Hedrick Medical Center’s close proximity to him, David may not have been stabilized in a timely manner before getting to Kansas City.

“It meant the difference between life and death, from what I’ve been told,” he said.

Dr. Rosenthal knows that some people are hesitant to seek medical care during the COVID-19 pandemic. He said, “Everyone’s discretion to prevent COVID continues to be important, however, if an individual’s family member notices that someone is experiencing a symptom that causes a significant amount of distress, then medical attention is crucial. If they present in a timely manner, then these patients would have a much greater likelihood of success from the treatments we provide.”

Learn more about Hedrick Medical Center - the only Joint Commission-accredited hospital in north-central Missouri.