ER Wait Time: 03:18 | If you are having a medical emergency, call 9-1-1.

Most of us in Kansas City were home watching our favorite hometown team, The Chiefs, during the playoffs back in January. But of course, at Providence, with 24/7 care occurring, our dedicated team in the Emergency Room and throughout the hospital were providing care for patients that Sunday.

One staff member, Sean Aylward, NREMT, came to work that day as usual. But later in the afternoon he started to not feel quite right. He was sweaty and a bit nauseated. Ignoring his symptoms, he didn’t think to ask himself if they were cardiac related and attempted to self-treat by splashing some water on his face and kept working. Multiple co-workers thought he should go home.

Healthcare workers don’t always listen to their own body when it is trying to tell them something because they are too focused on caring for patients. Luckily, Sean decided to instead stay and lie down to rest in one of the treatment rooms, still under the assumption this was anything but serious. Staff obtained his vital signs in addition to hooking him up to continuous cardiac monitoring and a 12-lead EKG. The physician on staff even joked with Sean that he better not have a heart attack while the Chiefs were playing. While Sean’s blood pressure was slightly elevated and with his first EKG having slight elevation in a single lead, his second EKG appeared to be normal, yet his symptoms persisted.

While starting the IV, the charge nurse noticed a change on Sean’s cardiac monitor. A third and final EKG was requested, performed, and read by the ER physician, Dr. Thor. An already nerve-racking situation became that much more sobering when it was confirmed that Sean was suffering from a STEMI or more commonly known as a “heart attack”. Sean’s co-workers kicked into high gear to stabilize Sean in preparation for the Cath Lab as they have done countless times with previous patients. Though well-trained in exactly what to do, this was the first time the patient was a friend and co-worker. Those responsible for his treatment and stabilization in the ER included ER physician Daniel Thorsteinson, DO, RNs Bob and Susan, and April EMT.

“Sean was very lucky to have such a caring team of nurses around him,” said Dr. Thorsteinson. “He could have just as easily brushed off his symptoms and gone home but was convinced to stay for evaluation by the seasoned nursing staff. Too often in Emergency Medicine do we see patients minimize serious symptoms until it’s too late to do something. I’m glad Sean had the sense to listen to those around him and get checked out.”

He was emergently taken for a cardiac catheterization to repair a 90% blocked circumflex artery by cardiologist Donald McSweyn, MD. He later recovered in the Providence Intensive Care Unit, where he said he received excellent care from the staff including Rusty RN.

With a family history of heart disease, Sean was keeping an eye on his health with his primary provider, Dr. Killam and Dr. McSweyn’s partner, cardiologist Prashanth Katrapati, M.D., FACC, FSCAI. Sean says his overall “health” report card was pretty good and tests didn’t really show any major concerns.

Was Sean lucky that he suffered a heart attack while he was at work at Providence? Yes! The teamwork between staff and departments is the same for all patients at Providence. Sean’s story is a good reminder to pay attention to signals from your body and your overall health. Pay attention, and if you have any symptoms, get checked out. Call 911 in an Emergency, and don’t wait. Minutes matter.