Advanced heart care, cardiac rehabilitation helping longtime nurse return to her passion | Ascension

Advanced heart care, cardiac rehabilitation helping longtime nurse return to her passion

Jacque Gordon loves being a nurse and for 44 years has found joy in helping patients get back to their lives.

Then a challenging heart problem led her to turn to her Ascension Via Christi family to help her get back to her life and job as a float nurse for Ascension Medical Group’s Wichita-area practices.

She’s not there yet, she says, but with their help she plans to be back to caring for patients again soon.

“I had the best care and we’re really, very blessed to have these wonderful nurses, doctors and services from imaging, cardiac care, surgery, cardiothoracic intensive care, cardiac rehabilitation and more right here in our community,” says Gordon, who has spent the past three months recovering from heart surgery.

Gordon’s heart issues arose after her third bout with COVID-19.

“I was struggling with fatigue, rather than respiratory symptoms,” she says. “I went to bed one night and thought something wasn’t right, so I used my stethoscope and listened to my chest and I heard a heart murmur which had not been there before."

Gordon met with her primary care physician, who said she needed to see a cardiologist. She chose Andre Saad, MD.

“From floating the clinics, I saw how Dr. Saad treated patients, their families and his coworkers,” says Gordon. “I knew he’d be kind during this stressful time while we figured out what was wrong.”

An initial electrocardiogram revealed abnormalities and that she had a silent cardiac event.

“I recognized that my EKG was abnormal before Dr. Saad said anything,” says Gordon. “What scared me the most was that I knew the signs and symptoms of women’s heart attacks, but I did not have any of these signs or symptoms."

Dr. Saad ordered an echocardiogram and a transesophageal echocardiogram to confirm a diagnosis. The imaging tests revealed two tumors in her heart which precipitated an immediate referral to cardiothoracic surgeon Brett Grizzell, MD, a key leader in Ascension Via Christi’s Structural Heart program.

Dr. Grizzell talked with her about the locations of the tumors and what procedure was needed to help save her life, which involved major heart surgery and a hospital stay of several days afterwards.

“I’ve never even had surgery before, so this was a big deal and I was scared,” says Gordon, who once served the Heart Failure Clinic. “Though I knew what they were talking about, I wondered if it would be best not to know at all. I got a lot of reassurance from the doctors beforehand though.”

Her three-hour surgery took place on November 15. She then recovered in the Cardiothoracic Intensive Care Unit at St. Francis for the next two days before being transferred to a step down unit then discharged to recover at home.

“I was in awe of the CTICU nurses as they were so well-equipped to take care of me with their skills, teamwork and their additional education and certification, which Dr. Grizzell continuously supports,” she says. “You need a skilled and dedicated care team of nurses to have good outcomes and, as a nurse, I knew as soon as I woke up that I didn’t have to worry with them around.”

Gordon began Cardiac Rehabilitation at Ascension Via Christi St. Francis in late December along with the program’s dietitian-led nutrition classes.

“This program will get me back to where I want to be: With patients,” says Gordon, who will finish the program in late March. “I am so lucky to have had everything I needed right here locally in Wichita, right down the road from my house."