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Chest pain is a frightening experience for anyone. When you’ve previously had a heart attack and a
stent implant, medical bills can begin piling up – and so can your stress levels.

“Jong-Soo” came to Bergen Volunteer Medical Initiative (BVMI) with his pain – and with his daughter, who served as his advocate and Korean language interpreter. BVMI is a Volunteers in Medicine clinic providing free primary and preventive medical care to low-income working people in Bergen County, New Jersey.

The BVMI staff strongly suggested an Emergency Room visit. But a few days later, when BVMI’s nurse manager Michelle Kaye took it upon herself to follow up on the results of that visit, she learned that it never took place. Jong-Soo had decided that the bills for his previous hospital stay were already piling up, and that was all he could handle.

Michelle scheduled another BVMI visit for Jong-Soo, this time with Dr. Josef Machac, who took an EKG and found abnormalities. Factoring in the chest pain and previous heart attack, Dr. Machac decided that an ER visit couldn’t wait any longer. The whole BVMI staff was involved in Jong-Soo’s transfer. They brought him downstairs in a wheelchair and called the ER staff so that he would be escorted in immediately. His health history was also sent over right away.

ER lab work revealed that Jong-Soo was “spilling enzymes,” a sign of a pending heart attack. It was
discovered that his stent had displaced, and a lesion (plaque buildup) was also found was in his left
anterior descending artery. This very serious occurrence is often referred to as a “Widow Maker.”
Fortunately for Jong-Soo, early discovery led to successful treatment and a return home.

“Dr. Machac is no ordinary doctor,” said Jong-Soo. “He was extremely kind, and went above and
beyond to make sure I went to the hospital. And he explained everything in detail. He really cares
about his patients, and I am so thankful.”

Jong-Soo’s pain is now gone, and the BVMI team is working with him on secondary prevention. “We’re monitoring Jong-Soo’s hypertension and cholesterol,” said Dr. Machac, “and he is learning how to live a healthier lifestyle.”

How does it feel to help save a life? Beyond great.

Used with permission from BVMI, a VIM Alliance member located in Hackensack, NJ.