Nesconset resident Glenn Femminella, 61, enjoyed a typical Saturday morning on February 12, 2022. He and his wife of 33 years, Tracey, went out for breakfast and then planned to run local errands. But, shortly after breakfast, Glenn returned home after he felt a heaviness in his chest that he dismissed as indigestion. He did not have the chest pain commonly associated with a heart attack. "I felt like something was sitting on my chest," said Glenn. He told Tracey: "Turn the car around. I don't feel well."
Four hours later, still in discomfort, Glenn knew something was wrong and asked Tracey to drive him to Catholic Health's St. Catherine of Siena Hospital (Smithtown, NY). That decision saved his life.
After arriving at the emergency department (ED), Glenn was in disbelief when told he was experiencing a heart attack. The next few hours are a blur for him. He later learned he was resuscitated twice and had survived a "widowmaker" heart attack—the most severe kind of heart attack because there is a total blockage in a critical blood vessel called the left anterior descending artery.
“Had Glenn waited just a few more minutes to decide to come to the ED, he would likely not have survived,” said Joshua Bozek, DO, St. Catherine of Siena Hospital Emergency Department Attending.
Dr. Bozek recalled Glenn’s medical emergency and how the nurses and staff quickly responded. “Astutely, our triage nurse brought Glenn immediately to the main treatment room,” he said. “Glenn went into ventricular fibrillation—a lethal cardiac arrhythmia—within seconds of placing cardiac leads on his chest.”
Dr. Bozek performed CPR and shocked Glenn’s heart back into a regular rhythm. An electrocardiogram (EKG) noted a type of heart attack known as an ST-elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI). While being administered lifesaving medication, Glenn coded again and went into ventricular fibrillation a second time. A quick shock brought Glenn back to consciousness. His care team rushed him to the hospital’s cardiac catheterization laboratory (cath lab).
Catholic Health Interventional Cardiologist Ezra Deutsch, MD, also Glenn’s cardiologist, was in the hospital that day.
“When Dr. Bozek called me after identifying Glenn as having a STEMI, I rushed immediately to the ED,” said Dr. Deutsch. “I called the cath lab team to make sure the cath lab was ready to receive this emergent case. We quickly identified Glenn’s blockage just minutes after arriving at the cath lab.”
Glenn's blockage is called a "widowmaker" heart attack—most patients do not survive unless they seek immediate medical attention. Dr. Deutsch opened the blocked artery and placed two stents.
“Glenn is very lucky he chose to come to St. Catherine of Siena Hospital at that moment,” said Dr. Deutsch. “His actions, coupled with our great team at St. Catherine, helped to save his life that day.”
After being stabilized, Glenn transferred to Catholic Health's St. Francis Hospital & Heart Center® (Roslyn, NY) for further evaluation. He was dismissed five days later with a long recovery ahead.
Glenn fully committed to his recovery, knowing a significant milestone was approaching in a few months—his son Brian's graduation from the University of Southern California. He built his strength with daily walks, took his medications at the right time, and checked in regularly with doctors for his physical and emotional health.
In May, with medical clearance, Glenn and Tracey boarded a plane to California. They saw Brian graduate and had the honor of pinning him as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Army the next day. “Two proud moments I will cherish for the rest of my life,” said Glenn.
Glenn’s medical emergency has given him a different perspective on life. “I don’t sweat the small things,” he said.
He also shares his story to encourage others. “If you’re not feeling right or feel a little off, go check yourself out,” he said. Glenn knows first-hand the difference it makes.
“Glenn is a reminder to not second guess if you’re feeling unwell, even if you don’t present with chest pain,” said Dr. Bozek. “Better to come to the hospital to be evaluated so you can get quickly treated if you’re experiencing a medical emergency.”
To celebrate the first anniversary of surviving his heart attack, Glenn catered lunch for the St. Catherine of Siena Hospital ED and met with Dr. Bozek and the entire care team to thank them for saving his life. Glenn also visited Dr. Deutsch’s office to express his gratitude and give the gift of a constellation named after Dr. Deutsch.
“I am proud of our emergency care team at St. Catherine of Siena Hospital, who responded immediately to Glenn’s escalating medical emergency,” said Dr. Bozek. “Their urgent response time greatly improved Glenn's survivability.”
Glenn will always be grateful. “Without a doubt, the care I received made a difference,” he said. “Thank you to St. Catherine of Siena Hospital for saving my life and St. Francis Hospital for getting me back on my feet and out of the hospital in just five days.”
Find Care at Catholic Health
Catholic Health is nationally recognized for cardiac care. Our St. Francis Hospital & Heart Center® is Long Island’s most-awarded heart program. We now bring that nationally recognized cardiac expertise to St. Francis Heart Centers across Long Island.
At the St. Francis Heart Center at St. Catherine of Siena Hospital, the chest pain center and cardiac catheterization laboratory provide highly skilled assessments and treatment of patients presenting with a heart attack.
Call 866-MY-LI-DOC (866-695-4362) to find a Catholic Health physician near you.
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