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Norman Regional Marks 25 Years of Performing Heart Surgery in 2016

10-01-2016

Norman Regional Marks 25 Years of Performing Heart Surgery in 2016NORMAN, OK - Norman Regional Health System celebrated 25 years of performing heart surgery in the Norman community in October 2016. The health system marked the occasion with an event that brought together physicians, nurses, and survivors of heart disease.

Honored at the ceremony were four of the original team members who helped found the heart surgery program in 1991. They are: Amy Greer, Jody Muskrat, Jill Alberter, and Bonnie Campbell. Dr. Kyle Toal, cardiothoracic and vascular surgeon, was also honored for his contributions to the heart surgery program at Norman Regional.

"Four of the six nurses on the original heart team have been at Norman Regional the whole time – 25 years," said Dr. Toal. “I think that longevity says a lot about the hospital."

Reflecting back on advances in surgery, Dr. Toal said two of the biggest advancements or "game changers" were the ability to take veins from the legs and also the way an aneurysm is fixed.

"These (aneurysm) patients can go home the next day, while in the past they used to have to stay two weeks in the hospital," Dr. Toal said.

The newest member of Norman Regional's heart surgery team, Dr. James Neal also spoke at the event. He mentioned his excitement about where heart surgery is headed.

"In general the field has come a long way. Heart surgery is getting safer, recovery is getting faster, and outcomes are getting better," Dr. Neal said. "There is a slight trend towards the minimally-invasive arena and for those situations when it is appropriate and safe; it is a great option for a lot of patients."

Since heart disease is the No. 1 cause of death for Oklahomans, survivors also shared their stories of healing at this event. One of the survivors was Greg Peery, a Norman Regional employee in the Health Information Technology department and heart surgery survivor.

Heart disease runs in his family, but Peery said he never thought the disease would happen to him.

Over a Memorial Day weekend, Peery started to feel bad so he went to the HealthPlex's Emergency Department, which is also a nationally-accredited Chest Pain Center. It was discovered he had three arteries that were 90 percent blocked. After consulting with cardiologists and cardiovascular surgeons, it was decided he needed heart surgery.

"Because of the team at Norman Regional and Dr. Toal, I am here today," Peery said. "I developed good friendships with the cardiology team. They weren’t just co-workers but friends. And that is the team I wanted working on me."

Now four years after his procedure, Peery is doing well and has adopted a new outlook on life. His cardiologist Dr. Muhammad Anwar has encouraged him to eat healthier and exercise more. Peery said it is important to him to have quality heart care services in Norman because of not only himself, but also his family.

"My family is close, so it’s comforting to know there is a team of professionals in Norman," he said.

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