When I first moved to Palm Springs, I never really had the need for a specific Hospital complex of services.  However, after some time, I visited a doctor who happened to be a member of the Eisenhower Health system.

After a few visits my doctor recognized that I had a heart murmur, which led me to a cardiologist.  After two years of tests I was eventually diagnosed with a “leaky” mitral valve, which led me to open heart surgery to repair or replace the valve.

When I first heard that I had a heart problem, I could not believe it.  My family was not prone to heart problems so I became a bit frightened when the surgeon said that I am heart healthy and least risk to repair the valve was open heart surgery.  “I am so vivacious; this cannot be happening to me.”

Two days in ICU and three more days in the regular hospital was quite a daunting occurrence seeing that I never experienced such a long stay in a hospital.


BUT I must say that at all times I felt I was the only patient on the ward and never experienced such loving care and laughter.  The staff was compassionate at all times with tender eyes always peering down at me.  I was applauded for getting out of bed and walking 2 feet to sit in a chair!   I was held by one of my nurses when I felt sad.  She just kept on saying, “It is going to get better, I assure you my good friend.  It is going to get better!”

When I first walked down the hall, the staff made me feel like I was a hero in a parade.  They again applauded even though most heart patients on the ward; probably at some time during their stay, was a member of their own parade.

So many staff members knew me by name and would come into my room to chat or even more wonderful, they would ask with great concern in their eyes, “How are you doing right now, Joe?”  At no time did I feel alone especially when my lovely husband of 46 years, Charlie, sat next to me with concerned, sad, and loving eyes.

Finally the recovery process, which is its own challenge, included many visits to the campus.  However, again the staff and crew were always friendly and efficient with the My Chart software system guiding me at all times.   And during this recovery process I received calls from the various doctor office staff just to see how I was doing.

I never believed the cardiologist when he said that it would take 6-10 weeks to fully recovery.  “No not me, I am too vibrant and I’ll be back to my ole self in 3 weeks!”  Boy was I wrong.  I finally learned to accept my situation and learned the value of the word “Patience”.

So what happens when the journey sees a light at the end of the tunnel?  Eisenhower sets up Physical Therapy for Cardio patients.  When I heard that it was going to be 36 sessions, every Monday, Wednesday and Friday I said, “Oh my God; too long—taking too up too much of my time.”  But then I realize that if my cardiologist, Dr. Choe,  and my cardio surgeon, Dr. Logsden, did not do what they did; how much time would I have had on this glorious planet.

So here I am going to PT 3 times a week and again, the staff is remarkable.  (See photos)  Kind and concerned and competent as all the staff that I encountered on my Heartfelt Journey.

So why do I compose this letter?  To let those who read this message know what it is like to experience love and kindness at a most vulnerable time in ones life.  I believe that this love and empathy must come from the Eisenhower administration and a loving staff.  I thank those who direct the staff with such concern for their patients with my most heartfelt appreciation.

Joe Giarrusso, Palm Springs