Patient Stories

Why choose Seton Specialty Hospital? Corey Restivo’s story

Corey Restivo never expected to be a heart patient. The heart crisis happened suddenly after dinner one evening many months ago. Gasping for breath, dizzy and fatigued, his family acted quickly and got him to the ER. Corey and his family never saw this coming. He is in his 60s, doesn’t smoke and didn’t feel like he was especially at risk for a heart attack.

Corey’s heart was severely damaged and had a quadruple blockage. Bypass surgery was indicated yet only two of the four bypasses could be safely done because Corey’s veins and vessels lacked the integrity to support a quadruple bypass. (The initial heart surgery and subsequent intensive care was provided by a southside hospital in Indiana.)

“The first phase of Dad's six month recovery was long and stressful for the entire family,” recalls Sarah Restivo-Jones, Corey’s daughter. “We learned it would be a long process to heal and there were many critical days when we were uncertain if dad had the strength to pull through.”

Then an infection in Corey’s chest developed and his sternum (the center chest bone) essentially dissolved from the infection. “This complication significantly stalled the recovery process,” said Sarah. “Now my Dad had an open wound in his chest and needed specialized long-term, acute care. We specifically sought out a long-term care center that was highly rated for their work with wounds, infection and heart disease. The Seton care team shared statistics on their impressive recovery rate after a tracheotomy and laid out Dad’s wound care plan.”

TIP: Always tour the facility but also ask lots of questions and ask to see the long-term acute care center’s survival outcome and performance statistics for different types of care.

Another benefit at Seton Hospital is their Caring Spirit and flexibility to accommodate the family. Prior to the heart attack, Corey was recently remarried. “The Seton staff made it possible for my step-mom to literally move in with Dad full-time, setting up another bed next to Dad’s. At other times I was able to bring in our child in to visit. All of these little kindnesses made a difference in Dad’s overall recovery.“

“I remember we looked as several facilities in central Indiana and Seton Specialty Hospital struck a positive note,” says Sarah. “The Seton staff has a lot of expertise with wound care and that's what Dad needed.” They also needed medical caregivers who could build-up his strength because over the many months Corey had lost excessive weight and was very weak. Through a combination of specific nutrition goals and concentrated rehabilitation, Corey safely regained weight and strength.

Another piece of this recovery at Seton Hospital was working with Corey's tracheotomy and implantable cardioverter defibrillator. “Before Dad came home we had to understand how to keep these devices in top working order and avoid interference. The Seton staff and St.Vincent’s Heart team are good educators and continue to follow Dad’s care.”

Now Corey is home and is making stronger strides every day. “All of the heart devices are working great, the wound in this chest is healing and stable, and every day looks better for my Dad. We feel very fortunate that Seton's was there for us.”

Gestures of kindness: Elizabeth Brand's story

“The people I spent my evening and overnights became my family…” – Elizabeth Brand

Elizabeth Brand from Indianapolis has a deep affection for the Seton Specialty Hospital nursing staff, especially the night shift. This St.Vincent long-term acute care hospital was her home for at more than two months following a medical emergency, lung surgery and hospitalization due to a stubborn pneumonia. That part of her story is not unusual because all of the patients at the Seton Specialty Hospital have medically complex illnesses that require 24/7 medical care for nearly a month or more. What Seton’s nursing staff identified in Elizabeth was a courageous, independent spirit that needed to know that even when you are at your weakest, there are options for getting medical care and for being in a place that can heal the body, mind and spirit.

At age 60, Elizabeth enjoyed her career as a college recruiter and freelance writer. She had been balancing a job she loved with the joys of grand-parenting and the companionship of her treasured Scottish terrier, named Gracie, for some time. Then in the spring of 2014 her job position vaporized in the wake of corporate downsizing. Now she had to make hard choices, especially with so much change in her life. “I remembered getting extremely fatigued and having a persistent cough which turned into a very resistant form of pneumonia,” says Elizabeth. “On top of that, my health insurance was now non-existent. So admittedly, times were tight and stressful. I coped by essentially becoming a hermit in my own home because I felt my body could weather this storm too.” Her daughter urged her to see a doctor. The first stop was an urgent care center and that doctor encouraged her to get more advanced medical attention for her lung condition; however, Elizabeth opted for a prescription of antibiotics and headed home. “My body was spiraling, so weak, I was barely nourishing myself yet in denial. Via text I would respond to family and friends that I was OK. Looking back, I was grappling with so many conflicting thoughts, including maybe this was my time.”

It was her beloved dog Gracie, with those gentle nudges that kept Elizabeth in the circle of life. “I realized that at times I was delirious, not really sure what was real and what was a vision,” says Elizabeth, “but I know I was challenged to choose life or death and that challenge resurfaced again while I was at the Seton Hospital trying to recuperate from a lung disease that was taxing every part of my body.”

As with many complex medical stories, there were many ups and down on Elizabeth’s medical journey. Times when her body just didn’t seem to cooperate. “The cheerful encouragement of the Seton staff was steady and strong. I really needed it during those long spring and summer days.” Elizabeth couldn’t spend time with her two precious grandchildren and Gracie was placed with a foster family. Yet, for all the pain and struggle, Elizabeth says she is so appreciative for the Seton staff, especially the night crew. “I was groggy or sleeping so much on and off during the day, yet at night I was often more alert. The night staff seemed more intimate and relaxed, and would genuinely share bits and pieces of their lives. A day didn’t go by when some extra kindness came my way; I wasn’t a chart, I was a person who they wanted to know.” Elizabeth adds that their “Caring Spirit” made her experience at Seton so much fuller (and more bearable).

Finally when the IV’s were removed and the chest tube was gone, Elizabeth was ready to take on Life and all that it offered. Elizabeth came to St.Vincent via ambulance in a nightgown with few belongings. When she left Seton, the staff gathered for a heartfelt send-off that included gifts of clothes and food. The social workers and billing navigators at St.Vincent worked closely with State resources and other charities to significantly minimize the financial impact after nearly 4 months of acute medical care. “I now feel like I have options that include a support system and access to consistent medical follow-up at the Joshua Simon Primary Care Center (on the St.Vincent 86th St. campus). I know I have to be an active participant and stay the course in order to keep improving. My comeback story isn’t finished yet, but it sure had a good start while at Seton Specialty Hospital.”

Pam Anderson/Richard Anderson

Pam Anderson Story Video

When Pam was told that she needed to choose a long term acute care facility for her father, she didn’t have to look any further than St.Vincent Seton Specialty Hospital. “They offered all of the medical services my dad would need to transition from intensive care to coming home. The beautiful garden, peaceful chapel and personal patient services offered gave my dad the independence and quality of life he needed to heal mentally as well as physically.” Pam appreciated the caring and committed staff, and feels that St.Vincent Seton Specialty Hospital was the perfect choice for her loved one.

Dave Holt

Long-term resident of Anderson, Indiana, Dave Holt is an exceptional printer at Saint John’s Health System. And while he’s worked on a number of projects for St.Vincent Seton Specialty Hospital over the years, he’s never had a reason to go there—not until he was admitted on April 3, 2011 as a patient.

Due to an unexpected and life-threatening reaction to a new combination of medications, Holt lost consciousness and was taken to Saint John’s Health System for immediate care. Failing to show improvement, Holt was transferred to Seton Specialty Hospital.

At Seton Specialty Holt regained consciousness, but he was uncertain of his new, unfamiliar surroundings. He was also understandably anxious about being so far from his family in Anderson.

The Seton Specialty nursing staff quickly recognized Holt’s need for company and began dropping in to chat or to help him shave and fix his hair. One nurse even let Holt borrow her cell phone to make a few calls while he waited for his family to bring him his own phone.

Holt said, “I was amazed at how everyone made such an effort to make me comfortable. All the nurses and staff made me feel like I was a part of their family. And they were always right there if I needed anything.”

When he left, Holt felt nothing short of a celebrity as everyone came out to say goodbye. Of course, no one wants to end up in intensive care, but he said that, “If you have to go somewhere, there’s no doubt that St.Vincent Seton Specialty Hospital should be your first choice.”

Dave Hasket

Dave Hasket Story Video

Stephen Douglas

Giving Patients A Voice

Stephen Douglas

After suffering a heart attack, Stephen Douglas was placed on a ventilator at St.Vincent Seton Specialty Hospital. Most ventilators render the patient silent. But a Philips Respironics ventilator system allowed Stephen to retain his voice, so he could talk to his wife and children while recovering. Unlike other ventilators that allow speaking, the ones used at Seton do not heighten the infection risk. Our speaking ventilators don’t allow the bi-directional flow of air. When in speaking mode, the patient inhales through the ventilator and exhales through the mouth. Being able to speak safely made a big impact on the healing process for Stephen. “Being able to talk to my family at a time like this – I can’t tell you how important that is.”

Harriett Black

Healing Through Music

Harriett Black Playing Piano

For years, Harriett Black played her piano in church and at nursing homes, bringing joy to all who listened. But also after suffering a heart attack, she had to give up the piano while recovering at St.Vincent Seton Specialty Hospital. Two months into her recovery, Harriett’s doctor encouraged her husband to bring her piano keyboard to the hospital. With support from hospital staff, she began to play music again. The sound of her piano ringing through the halls provided inspiration and comfort not only for Harriett, but for neighboring patients. Harriett was removed from ventilation support a couple of weeks later, and went home shortly afterward. “The staff at Seton understands that it takes more than medicine to heal a person,” Harriett said. “It takes heart, too.”