George McCabe knows a little something about being in the right place at the right time. In February 2012, George and his wife Gina were in the waiting room of cardiologist Robin Houck, MD, for an appointment. Despite recent heart issues, George had just finished telling Gina how great he felt, when he collapsed to the floor. George had experienced a cardiac tamponade, a life-threatening buildup of fluid around the heart that limits its ability to pump. The Port Ludlow resident was fortunate to have been in his cardiologist’s office when it happened. George was rushed by ambulance to Harrison Medical Center, where he was met by cardiologist Satyavardhan Pulukurthy, MD (also known as Dr. PK), and treated in Harrison’s Heart & Vascular Center, home to the most comprehensive cardiovascular program in the region.
A team approach to medicine Thanks to Dr. Houck, the team at the Heart & Vascular Center at Harrison was prepared for George upon his arrival, and knew exactly what his condition entailed. The previous month, George was diagnosed with a serious atrial fibrillation condition, in which his heart would beat very fast, then slow, and then stop completely for several seconds, causing him bouts of dizziness after which he would pass out.
Unfortunately, a pacemaker that was implanted while he was on vacation in Oregon led to complications. Doctors at Harrison discovered that blood had begun to leak into his pericardium.
“When Dr. PK met us in the emergency department,” Gina recalls, “he gave George one of his million-dollar smiles. It was then that I knew everything was going to be okay.”
Dr. PK performed a pericardiocentesis, draining 20 ounces of blood from the pericardium to relieve the pressure on the heart. Electrophysiologist Nathan Segerson, MD, was consulted to assist the team with George's care. As a result, George now feels great, and is happy to get back to the important things in his life: spending time with his wife, children, and grandchildren, as well as enjoying woodcarving.
“If anyone asks me who my heroes are, they aren’t baseball players or football players,” George says. “My heroes are Dr. Houck, Dr. PK, and Dr. Segerson. They are the ambulance crew, the nurses, and our physician Dr. Peter Lehmann. The community is lucky to have them and such high-quality healthcare. Harrison is a real gem.”