Grand Rapids resident Sharon Crittenden, age 67, was overwhelmed upon learning she would need open heart surgery due to significant blockage in one of her arteries. But her longtime cardiologist, Dr. Vinayak Manohar of Mercy Health Physician Partners, assured her world-class cardiovascular hands were not far from home.
Dr. Manohar referred Sharon to cardiothoracic surgeon Dr. Richard Downey, an assistant professor of cardiac surgery at University of Michigan Health (U-M Health) and lead cardiac surgeon at Mercy Health in Muskegon.
"Dr. Downey has always been my first choice for referring patients," Dr. Manohar said. "Of all the cardiothoracic surgeons I've encountered, he has the greatest experience and the most durable results, without complications. He also has connections with U-M Health, and I trust him implicitly."
During a consultation with Dr. Downey, Sharon expressed her concern about having to travel outside of West Michigan for surgery and related follow-up appointments and rehabilitation. Dr. Downey quickly put her mind at ease, explaining that he would perform the double bypass surgery at Mercy Health in Muskegon, and any follow-up care would take place at Mercy Health offices in Grand Rapids. Sharon was thrilled.
"I got the care I needed in both places and it was fantastic,” Sharon said. “The staff genuinely cares about you.”
Sharon isn't the only one pleased with her results.
"We were able to do a bypass operation to detour blood around the blockages and allow the heart to get the blood it needs to function and prevent Sharon from having a heart attack," Dr. Downey said. "She should have an excellent life span and be able to resume normal activities without limitation."
When Sharon met with Dr. Manohar for her first post-operative visit, he was elated to see her in such great health.
“She had no shortness of breath, no chest pain and no oxygen canister,” Dr. Manohar said.
This seamless care is possible due to the collaborative, team-based approach that combines cardiovascular services between Mercy Health in Muskegon and Mercy Health in Grand Rapids. "Mercy Health is a regional health care system serving patients in Grand Rapids, Muskegon and along the Lakeshore. Patients across West Michigan are now able to obtain cardiology services, cardiovascular surgery services and electrophysiology services through the same health care system for more continuity of quality care” Dr. Downey said.
Mercy Health's affiliation with U-M Health elevates the level of cardiac surgery care for patients in West Michigan. "Our affiliation provides more depth and expertise to our practice, allows us greater access to innovative techniques, and gives us greater ability to interact with U-M Health research protocols,” Dr. Downey said.
As Sharon continues to see Dr. Downey and Dr. Manohar for post-operative care, the Mercy Health team is by her side helping her make dietary and lifestyle changes to maximize her quality of life.
“After having surgery and continuing cardiac rehab, I'm doing great!” Sharon said. “I can take my dogs for a walk without being out of breath, and I can do things around the house more easily. The care at Mercy Health was great."
Learn more about Sharon’s story at YourHeartTeam.com
About Our Program: Mercy Health serves patients across West Michigan, providing access to cardiovascular services, cardiac surgery and electrophysiology services through the same health care system for continuity of quality care. In collaboration with U-M Health, the Mercy Health cardiac surgery program is led by distinguished cardiac surgeons Dr. Richard Downey and Dr. Nabeel El-amir, who together bring 50 years of surgical experience and perform more than 350 cardiac surgeries annually.
All physicians and staff participating in this program provide services in a manner consistent with Mercy Health’s Catholic mission and the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services.