July, 09, 2014 —As part of its Visiting Hearts Program, the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery at Englewood Hospital and Medical Center (EHMC) is recruiting volunteers who have undergone heart surgery to meet with prospective patients and loved ones. The program’s volunteers speak with patients during pre-admission testing and recovery to address any concerns or questions they may have about what to expect after the procedure and throughout the rehabilitation process.
Al Spiegel has been a volunteer at EHMC for 10 years. Before he began volunteering, Spiegel was visited by a member of the Visiting Hearts program prior to his own surgery. “The things he talked about from the patient’s perspective made a big difference,” said Spiegel. He noted that Visiting Hearts helps to alleviate a patient’s apprehension through the support of someone who can relate directly to his or her condition and emotions. Spiegel described the experience as both beneficial and rewarding.
The program sets itself apart from many other visiting heart programs because it offers compassionate support on an individual level. Bertha Weil, who recently had open heart surgery at Englewood Hospital and Medical Center, was introduced to Mr. Spiegel through her doctor.
“Something that was so traumatic for me actually became easier because I knew what to expect,” said Weil. “It made my recovery…much easier.”
Because of the positive experience, Ms. Weil has decided to become a Visiting Hearts volunteer. She is excited to begin her volunteer work so that she may, “pay it forward.”
The program is open to all who have previously been a cardiac patient at EHMC. Both men and women are welcome. Women are encouraged to participate to offer a relatable healing perspective to other women who will be undergoing a cardiac procedure. Those interested in applying to the program please contact Robyn Giaccone, office manager of the Cardiothoracic Surgery department, at (201)894-3636.