Tiniest Patients Captured His Heart

Above: Steven Gwiazdowski, M.D., cradles one of his young charges in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at NorthBay Medical Center. Neonatologist Steven Gwiazdowski, M.D., had his heart set on becoming a pilot, but that was before a physical determined that nearsightedness was an issue. “In those days, it all but disqualified candidates from flight school,”…
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Partnership is Good for the Heart

When it comes to matters of the heart, patients of NorthBay Heart & Vascular Center are served by a team steeped in military know-how, from one of NorthBay Healthcare’s long-time cardiologists and a nurse practitioner, who both served in the Air Force, to two lieutenant colonels currently assigned to David Grant Medical Center at Travis…
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H is for Heart & Vascular

Heart Failure Academy: Your Partner for Life Nurse practitioners Dana Gill, left, and Sherry Ramirez explain the intricacies of heart health, as part of NorthBay’s Heart Failure Academy, to Ernest Maligaya. No one plans to have a heart attack, but if you have one in Solano County, you’re in close proximity to a comprehensive, high-tech,…
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Jolted Back to Life

LifeVest Saves Patient Dr. Laybon Jones listens to Dale Bordelon’s heart. Dale Bordelon has defied death. Twice. On two separate occasions last summer, the Vallejo resident suffered Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA). Each life-threatening event came without warning, he says. “It turned me off like a switch.” But Dale is alive today because each time his…
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A Talent for Complex Cases

Team Helps Heart Failure Patients Stay Out of the Hospital Amy Bragg, R.N., left, and Allison Short, R.N., keep track of high-risk patients, making sure they get the services they need to remain healthy enough to stay out of the hospital. It was 1996 and Amy Bragg’s toddler Timothy was gravely ill, battling a parasite…
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Not Your Average Joe

Vacaville Restaurateur Has a Team to Thank for His Life… Kathy and Joe Murdaca The way Joe Murdaca figures it, he was clinically dead for about 48 seconds. It was Oct. 10, 2013, and he was driving back from his restaurant, Pietro’s No. 1, in downtown Vacaville. He was just back from a vacation and…
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Team Lucia Puts Patient Back on Track

Lucia Contreras is the center of attention for her NorthBay team, which includes, from left to right, Medical Assistant Shon Jones, Primary Healthcare Coordinator Tiffany Montoya, R.N.; Certified Diabetes Educator Susan Rosten, N.P.; and Dr. Kulbir Bajwa. For nearly 10 years, Lucia Contreras and her trusty pacemaker ticked along like clockwork, keeping the Vaca-ville woman…
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Grateful: From the Bottom of His Mended Heart

Tim Woodson of Fairfield was Christmas shopping at the mall on Dec. 22, 2012, when he began to feel nauseous and his upper body started to cramp. He put away his wallet and went home, thinking he just needed to stretch out because of his rigorous session at the gym that morning. His pulse was…
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Surgical Team Moves in Tandem at the Speed of Life

Something wasn’t right. Morry Wasserman, 91, knew it the minute he woke up Aug. 22, 2012, and noticed his wife Betty had slipped out of bed to use the bathroom. She called through the door that she was fine, but moments later she stumbled into their bedroom, a sight he’ll never forget. “She looked 15…
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Under Pressure Overcoming Obstacles–Again

Martin Santos is no stranger to the medical malady. At 19, a strep-throat infection led to a disease that caused his kidneys to begin shutting down. At 36, he needed a new kidney, a gift of life that came from his wife, Esther. At 55, despite unrelenting adherence to a strict diet and plenty of…
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Stroke is an Immediate Emergency

Every minute matters when it comes to treating a stroke. Stroke is the fourth leading cause of death and the leading cause of adult disability in the United States. It is an immediate emergency. Stroke is also known as a “brain attack.” It usually happens without warning, when an artery in the brain becomes blocked…
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Patient Says Thanks … One Year Later

One year after a dramatic rescue from cardiac failure, 19-year-old Nichelle “Nickie” Fisher came back to NorthBay VacaValley Hospital—to say thank you. Accompanied by her mother, Dottie Mulligan-Fisher and a small army of family friends, Nickie set about sharing her gratitude—with certificates of appreciation, a spread of refreshments and lots of heart-felt hugs in the…
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Cardiac Rehab is His Life After the ‘Big One’

Karen Loewe, R.N., clinical coordinator of Cardiac Rehabilitation at NorthBay Medical Center, chats with longtime participant Hanson Shishido. When retired businessman Hanson Shishido, 65, of Fairfield, says he survived the “big one,” he means it. Back in 2002 he didn’t just have a major heart attack. His heart went into cardiogenic shock, a condition in…
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When Chest Pain Isn’t Your Heart

Almost 30 percent of patients tested for a possible heart attack find that their pain is due to something else. Many cases turn out to be caused by a problem in the esophagus—(the tube that connects your throat and stomach). The esophagus and heart are in close proximity and even have a similar nerve supply….
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Education is Focus for Chest Pain Center

Diana Sullivan (left), director of the NorthBay Heart & Vascular Center service line, and Mary Hernandez, clinical practice manager for NorthBay’s Emergency and Trauma Services, have teamed up to educate the public about the signs and symptoms of a heart attack. Now that NorthBay Medical Center in Fairfield is the preferred destination for patients suffering…
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Back from the Brink…

Quick Treatment Saves Life On a warm June afternoon, Michael Hermes, 47, was dropping off umbrellas for a graduation party at his niece’s home in Napa when the first wave of dizziness hit him. He immediately asked his wife Michelle to drive him home to Vacaville. He was hoping that 40 minutes later, everything would…
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Pain Reveals Hidden Danger

Nobuko McClellan (center) enjoys time with her daughter, Janet, and her grandson, Duran, 2. Nobuko McClellan, 60, tried to convince herself that she was just tired. After all, she had just moved into a new home in Vacaville, and she’d been in overdrive, trying to get everything fixed up just right. She’d painted. She’d carried…
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A Good Fit

NorthBay Partners With Firm, Creates Custom-made Solutions It’s nice to know when someone has your back. For Seph Naficy, M.D., who specializes in vascular and cardiothoracic surgery, that someone is actually a couple of colleagues who are at his side during procedures, standing by their devices, and ready to make changes at a moment’s notice….
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Help for His Heart, Close to Home

Ray Simonds is your prototypical local boy. He went to elementary school in Fairfield and graduated from Armijo High School. In FFA, he raised cattle and sheep and showed them off at the Solano County Fair. After college, he invested his business locally and he sunk his family’s roots deep into the community. So it…
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Norman’s Journey

When it comes to matters of the heart, everyone’s experience is different. Some stroll into the Emergency Department with “a little indigestion” and shortness of breath, while others are rushed in on a gurney suffering cardiac arrest. In some cases, a simple stress test can start the journey, which could lead to an interventional procedure…
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Caring at critical moments in the ICU

The first hours after a cardiac event are a critical time in a patient’s path to recovery, and especially so during the first 24 hours following cardiac surgery. Helping to shepherd patients along at this time is Jamie Chohon, acute care nurse practitioner. Patients come under Chohon’s supervision when they arrive in the ICU, either…
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When Muscle Matters

NorthBay Cardiac Rehabilitation is a nationally certified program located inside NorthBay Medical Center. The staff works directly with the cardiology team to provide care for patients once they are discharged from the hospital. Patients entering the cardiac rehabilitation program are ready to learn and put into practice the tools they’ll need to live successfully with…
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Surgical Team focuses on Heart of the Matter

NorthBay Medical Center’s unique situation and location will make it one of the most sought-after heart programs in Northern California, says Dr. Ramzi Deeik, director of Cardiac Surgery Clinical Outcomes at the NorthBay Heart & Vascular Center. The cardiothoracic surgeon has been with the program since its planning stages. “We have the experience, the infrastructure,…
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If it’s an Emergency, We’re Here to Help

Patients entering the Emergency Department with chest pain are immediately placed in a protocol that will quickly identify if a patient is having a heart attack. The first step is giving the patient an electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG), a diagnostic tool that measures and records the electrical activity of the heart. The standard test is…
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It’s His Special-TEE

Previous technology only provided doctors with a two-dimensional view of the heart. The latest technology allows doctors a 4-D experience—which Dr. Filip Roos describes as 3-D in motion—a highly detailed, moving image of a heart as it beats. It gives doctors the ability to diagnose valve disorders and other issues earlier than ever before. The…
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February is Heart Month

The Perfect Time to Focus on Matters of the Heart For NorthBay Healthcare, that means bringing our Heart & Vascular Center into the spotlight in this edition of Wellspring. If 2009 was the year of building the center, then 2010 is the year it all gels. From interventional cardiac procedures to high-tech diagnostic services to…
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Chest Pain Center is a Community Effort

When it comes to heart attacks, doctors say that time is muscle. No one understands this better than the paramedics of the Fairfield Fire Department, Vacaville Fire Department and Medic Ambulance. They are first on the scene when a “9-1-1” call is made for a possible heart attack. So when NorthBay Medical Center took on…
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PCI Puts Bounce Back in Her Step

If you glance at Eva Bierma with her smooth, alabaster skin, strawberry blonde hair and bright blue eyes, you would be shocked to learn that she’s not only a mother and grandmother, but a great, and great-great-grandmother. The Big Piney, Wyo. native was just a 6-year-old cowgirl on the Flying W ranch south of Yellowstone…
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Heart-Healthy Eating Plan Fuels Recovery

In the days following surgery, cardiac patients receive many visits, including one from the clinical dietitian, Cindy Liu, M.S., R.D. Her initial visit, on the third or fourth post-surgical day, is to introduce herself and to complete a nutritional assessment to assure her patients’ appetite has returned and they are eating—first liquids and then solid…
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When It’s Time to Leave… You’ll be Ready

Tina Simon, R.N., is focused on getting patients prepared for the day they go home. Discharge planning at NorthBay is truly a collaborative effort and it involves a multi-disciplinary approach. It’s a process that usually starts when a patient comes to the Same Day Center for pre-admission tests, and the evaluation continues all through their…
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Learn CPR to Save a Life

Most cardiac arrests happen at home, according to the American Heart Association (AHA), leaving immediate, emergency care in the hands of loved ones. In fact, the AHA says almost 80 percent of out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occur in private residences. Would you know what to do if an adult suddenly collapsed, whether at home or in…
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Chew an Aspirin after Calling 911

If you’re having a heart attack, you need to get to the hospital fast. You also need an aspirin to keep the platelets in your blood from clotting. First, call 9-1-1. Then, reach for the aspirin bottle. Studies show that chewing one standard 325-mg dose of aspirin is the quickest way to get the drug…
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Heart Attack Symptoms

A heart attack can strike like a sledge hammer, leaving no doubt that you’re in a cardiac emergency. A heart attack can also be so subtle that you mistake it for indigestion. That’s why it’s so important to understand the warning signs for heart attack. Warning Signs of Heart Attack Pain or discomfort in the…
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Symptoms of Heart Disease

Heart disease is one of the leading causes of death for both men and women in the United States. Heart disease includes a number of problems affecting the heart and the blood vessels in the heart. Some progress quietly for years until they are announced by a heart attack. These conditions include coronary artery disease,…
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Telehealth: An Online Lifeline

Telehealth clinician Elizabeth Moffat checks on Ramiro Gutierrez of Fairfield after his successful triple bypass surgery at NorthBay Medical Center. Some post-surgical patients will be discharged to home, but are not quite well enough to immediately resume all the activities of daily life, such as driving to their doctor’s office for follow-up appointments. Patients in…
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A Calm Refuge for Families

A private waiting room keeps the family and friends of cardiac surgery patients comfortable, thanks to the creative efforts of Susan Gornall, director of perioperative services, and Carmen Perry, manager of facilities planning. The Cardiac Surgery Family Waiting Room opened last summer and is conveniently located just off the main lobby of NorthBay Medical Center….
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High Blood Pressure is The Silent Killer

Tips When Your Blood Pressure Is Taken Don’t drink coffee or smoke cigarettes 30 minutes before having your blood pressure measured. Before the test, sit for five minutes with your back supported and your feet flat on the ground. Rest your arm on a table at the level of your heart. Wear short sleeves so…
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Risk Factors for Heart Disease

Some things in life you just can’t change. Your age. Your family history. Your ethnicity. All are risk factors for heart disease. More than 80 percent of people who die of coronary heart disease are 65 or older, according to the American Heart Association. And, as people age, they are more prone to develop high…
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With Lessons of the Heart, There’s Always More to Learn

A great deal of training by an array of medical professionals was undertaken in the months before the first cardiac surgery was even performed at NorthBay’s Heart & Vascular Center, and the educational process has not slowed since. In fact, it has accelerated, according to Diana Sullivan, Ph.D., RDCS, director, Cardiovascular Service Line. Employees have…
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Cardiac Surgery Has Successful Start

With 11 successful open heart surgeries to its credit between the April grand opening and the beginning of August, NorthBay Heart & Vascular Center is right on target to becoming Solano County’s premier center, according to Diana Sullivan, Ph.D., director of the cardiovascular service line. “In the last 18 months, we’ve moved at dizzying speeds,…
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First Mended Hearts Chapter Forms

The first local chapter of Mended Hearts, the international organization comprised of people who have had a heart event, has been established at NorthBay Medical Center. The group meets once a month at locations rotating between the Fairfield hospital and VacaValley Health Plaza in Vacaville. Meetings are from 4 to 5:30 p.m. and include a…
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Saving a Heart of Gold

Norman says his wife, Jackie, is his rock and has been key in helping him adopt a healthier lifestyle since his heart surgery. Jackie and Norman Gray have been married so long, they practically finish each other’s sentences. But, when it comes to retelling the events of May 15, Norman lets Jackie do all the…
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NorthBay Awarded Chest Pain Center Designation

NorthBay Medical Center learned in early August its new status as an accredited Chest Pain Center. “The Chest Pain designation represents one more very important advancement in Solano County in the treatment of acute cardiac disease,” said NorthBay Healthcare President/CEO Gary Passama. “It is a perfect example of our commitment to compassionate care, advanced medicine,…
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NorthBay Health Care Launches Heart & Vascular Interventional Program

NorthBay Healthcare has launched another chapter in bringing advanced cardiovascular medicine to Solano County. Coronary artery disease is being treated non-surgically, utilizing advanced procedures to “open” blocked arteries that supply blood to the heart. Percutaneous Coronary Intervention, otherwise known as “PCI,” is now being performed in NorthBay Medical Center’s $3.6 million, state-of-the-art Cardiac Catheterization Lab….
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Samer Kanaan, MD Joins Heart & Vascular Surgical Team

Cardio-thoracic surgeon Samer Kanaan, M.D., of Napa Valley Cardiac and Thoracic Surgery, has joined the NorthBay Heart & Vascular Center surgical team. Dr. Kanaan completed his undergraduate studies at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. He went on to medical school at Northwestern University in Chicago and completed his general surgery residence at Northwestern Memorial Hospital….
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Cardiac Cath Lab Makes History With First Laser Treatments

The first laser atherectomy ever performed in Solano County took place at NorthBay Medical Center in February. An atherectomy is a procedure that actually removes plaque from the artery walls of patients with peripheral artery disease (PAD), according to interventional cardiologist Milind Dhond, M.D. Atherectomies have been performed in NorthBay Medical Center’s cardiac catheterization lab…
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