Adell’s Story: COVID-19 Long-Hauler Patients Find Help at Westchester Medical Center

As New York faced the frightening initial wave of COVID-19 infection and illness in March 2020, Elmsford resident Adell Davis and her family were among those first to be infected with the virus. Adell, her husband Lemuel and daughter Crystal, all experienced an ominous litany of symptoms — including a loss of taste and smell. They made an appointment to get tested at Westchester Medical Center, in Valhalla, the flagship of WMCHealth. All three were diagnosed with COVID-19.

Frightened, Adell and Crystal turned to Adell’s primary care physician of 24 years, Carol Karmen, MD, of WMCHealth Advanced Physician Services, Internal Medicine, in Hawthorne. “It was fortunate that they had already established care with us,” recalls Dr. Karmen. “They were comfortable with me already. When they needed help, they knew where to turn.”

Although the family recovered from the initial infection, Adell and Crystal continued to suffer from long term symptoms including fatigue, headaches and hair loss. It was what has come to be known as COVID Long Haulers Syndrome, a condition where symptoms linger long after the initial infection subsides. Fortunately for the family, Westchester Medical Center was one of the first to establish a program to monitor and treat the condition. The Davis family is improving and has regular follow-up appointments as part of WMCHealth’s Post-COVID Recovery Program.

Reflecting on her experience, Adell adds, “I’m happy that we have such a great doctor who cares so much about us. Dr. Karmen is an awesome physician and a caring person.”

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Jim’s Story: Retired Teacher Back to Active Life After Hip Replacement Surgery at St. Anthony Community Hospital

Last summer, orthopedic surgeon John M. Hardcastle, MD, received a photo of his patient Jim McIntyre atop Mount Yale, a 14,200-foot mountain in Colorado. This was just four months after Dr. Hardcastle replaced the 67-year-old’s right hip at St. Anthony Community Hospital, in Warwick, a member of the Westchester Medical Center Health Network (WMCHealth).

McIntyre, a retired teacher, is active hiking mountains, climbing glaciers and sking. After experiencing severe hip pain, he consulted Dr. Hardcastle, who had been treating him for several years for osteoarthritis and degenerative joint disease. “You’ll know when it’s time to replace your hip,” he had advised McIntyre. That time had come.

“Despite the pandemic,” says Dr. Hardcastle, “Jim was wise not to delay his care; many safeguards had been put into place to ensure patient safety.”

Shortly after waking from a minimally invasive procedure to replace his hip, McIntyre walked down a hallway with a physical therapist and a walker and then up and down a flight of stairs. “I was already in less pain than before I came in,” he recalls. “I felt better than I had in three years.”

“The staff at St. Anthony Community Hospital was tremendous,” he said. “Dr. Hardcastle is also an athlete, so he understands how important it is to get back to an active life. He’s a terrific human being and surgeon.”

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Adam Magwood

Adam’s Story: 12-year-old Bike Accident Victim with Complications Grateful for Care at Maria Fareri

What started as a fun camping trip, ended as every parent’s nightmare for Michelle Magwood, whose 12-year-old son Adam had a serious bicycle accident during the trip. Miles from nowhere, Adam was unresponsive when an ambulance arrived and he was ultimately flown to Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital in Valhalla.  A team of critical care specialists cared for Adam during his flight to the hospital, a member of the Westchester Medical Center Health Network (WMCHealth), the region’s only Level 1 Pediatric Trauma Center.

In addition to head trauma that required neurosurgical evaluation, Adam had a broken arm when he arrived at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital and was immediately admitted to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. Under the care of a team of specialists that included pediatric trauma specialists, Adam’s recovery rapidly progressed, but “something wasn’t right,’’ says Michelle. “His breathing was horrible.”

Tali Lando, MD, a pediatric otolaryngologist (an ear, nose and throat specialist) on the team at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital suspected scarring in Adam’s airway was the cause and received approval from Adam’s parents to perform an emergency tracheostomy.

Within a few days following the procedure, Adam’s airway returned to normal, and within two weeks, the tracheostomy was removed.

“We were able to successfully manage what could have been a very dangerous situation,’’ says Dr. Lando. “His family was very grateful to the entire team.’’

For Adam’s part, he says he was very relieved that the ordeal did not affect his voice, since he loves to act.

“At first, I thought I was going to die,’’ recalls Adam. “Then, I didn’t know if I was going to be able to speak again, but now I’m fine. It was pretty traumatic. But it was such good care at the hospital. It was like a miracle. The hospital was really nice. You could tell they really care.”

Brendan’s Story: Young Stroke Victim Gets Second Chance at HealthAlliance Hospital

Brendan Fleming has a lot to be thankful for. The 23-year-old Mechanicville, NY personal trainer is in good health after suffering a stroke while at his grandparents’ home in Kingston.

Thanks to the quick action of his grandparents and the medical team at HealthAlliance Hospital in Kingston, Brendan is doing well. The medical team at HealthAlliance Hospital — a designated Primary Stroke Center — intravenously administered a drug called tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), which can dissolve stroke-producing blood clots.

“It’s like a miracle medicine,” says Fleming, who was transferred to the intensive care unit at Westchester Medical Center for three days, and was attended to by Ellis Lader, MD, a cardiology and critical-medicine physician with the WMCHealth Heart and Vascular Institute. Dr. Ellis discovered that the stroke was caused by a congenital heart defect, which the surgical team at Westchester Medical Center was able to correct.

Today, Fleming is back to his regular routine and working once again. He is grateful to his quick-thinking grandparents, as well as to Dr. Lader and the staff at HealthAlliance Hospital and Westchester Medical Center for their life-saving care. “They were always there, being supportive of me and telling me everything would be okay,” he says. “They did a great job.”

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Linda’s Story: Retired Monroe Resident Finds Help for Irregular Heart Beat at Good Samaritan

Having spent 21 years in the fast-paced world of retail sales, Linda Brancato didn’t think anything was amiss when she began to have spells that felt like anxiety attacks. “My heart would race, and I’d get lightheaded and dizzy,” recalls the 67-year-old Monroe resident. “I felt like I had to hold on to someone or something, because I thought I could pass out.”

A cardiologist performed a range of tests and Brancato was diagnosed with or AFib, an irregular and often rapid heartbeat. But as it turned out, the standard treatment of blood thinning medications to prevent blood clots common with the condition were not appropriate for her. 

She soon learned about a procedure where a device called a Watchman is implanted in the heart to help prevent clots without blood-thinners. She consulted with Gunjan Shukla, MD, an electrophysiologist at Good Samaritan Hospital, a member of Westchester Medical Center Health Network (WMCHealth). “I left his office with a smile on my face, knowing I was going to get the help I needed,” she said.

After the procedure to implant the device, and follow up, Brancato is doing well.

“I have to give a shout-out to everyone I met during this process, from the door greeter at Good Samaritan to the nurses and doctors. I have such gratitude for my nurse coordinator, Suzanne Bartman, for checking in with me and visiting me and guiding me through the process,” she said. “They were all incredible.”

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