On Saturday, November 2 a little after 8:00 o’clock in the morning, Kristi Legaarden, Saint Joe’s Emergency Department Clinical Nurse Educator, was taking her dogs for a walk near her home around Curtis Park. She saw a parked car with a woman in the driver seat and a man in the passenger seat who had no color in his face and appeared lifeless. When Kristi approached the car, she learned from the woman that the couple was on their way to Saint Joseph Hospital because the gentleman had pain in his shoulder and just wasn’t feeling well. During their ride to the hospital, he became unresponsive. The wife pulled the car over and flagged down a man who was walking around the park and asked him to call 911.
When Kristi came on the scene, she opened the car door, assessed the patient and was unable to find a pulse so she started chest compressions. The patient was breathing off and on during the four to five minutes that Kristi performed CPR until the Denver Fire Department arrived, took over CPR and used a defibrillator to bring the patient back. Denver Health EMS team arrived while the defibrillator was being used and when the patient was revived, they took him to Saint Joe’s Emergency Department. When the patient got to hospital, the Saint Joe’s ED team determined that he had had a heart attack caused by a blocked left anterior descending coronary (LAD) artery. This type of heart attack is also known as the widowmaker.
At 8:37 a.m., Kristi was on the way home when she got a Cath Lab activation page on her phone and she knew it was for the patient that had just left by ambulance. The Cath Lab team put in a stent to open the LAD blockage and performed a cooling treatment for 24 hours.
Thanks to Kristi’s lifesaving heroics, along with the amazing coordination by Denver Fire, EMS first responders and the providers at Saint Joseph Hospital, the patient, Louis Perez (who goes by Sam), went home on Wednesday, November 6, just in time to celebrate 56 years of marriage with his bride Dolores! According to Dolores, Sam is doing great, walking around the block with his home health nurse and starting cardiac rehabilitation.
During his stay at Saint Joe’s, Kristi visited Mr. and Mrs. Perez every day. Dolores and Sam showed their gratitude by buying her flowers and even inviting her to their home for Thanksgiving. The couple recently came to Saint Joe’s and was reunited with Kristi, Brian Lee, a paramedic from Denver Health EMS, and others at Saint Joe’s who saved his life and allowed the Perez family to enjoy this holiday season together.
Although this story is extraordinary in that one of Saint Joe’s amazing nurses just happened to be walking by when Mr. Perez needed help, it is not at all out of the ordinary that the Denver Fire Department, EMS agencies and the doctors and caregivers at Saint Joseph Hospital work together to provide excellent care for our patients. Thanks to all of our physicians, associates and community partners for your everyday heroics!