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A Heart-friendly Baystate Health

February 01, 2019
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“Baystate Health is heart friendly,” said Wally Garstka.

And, he would know. The 76-year-old West Springfield, Mass., resident has had three heart procedures at Baystate Medical Center since 1994, with his most recent surgery taking place in 2017.

“I count every day on my calendar since my surgery,” shared Wally, thankful for the care he received that allowed him to get back to living his life.

Beginning in 1994, at 50 years old, Wally had a quadruple bypass surgery, followed by a bypass and valve replacement right after his retirement in 2009. In 2017, Wally returned for a Transcather Valve Aortic Replacement (TAVR), a minimally invasive surgery that replaces a valve through a small incision in the patient’s leg, rather than performing open heart surgery.

“My heart is great – I’ve never had a heart attack and have a wonderful heart. My plumbing is the issue,” Wally shared with a smile.

A good experience

Following each of his procedures, Wally attended cardiac rehabilitation, receiving a diploma at the end of each session. He now jokes that he’s received a bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate in cardiac rehabilitation. Adding to that impressive number of diplomas is his volunteerism, which includes spending one morning per week as a volunteer in the cardiac rehabilitation program.

“I just started after this last procedure to volunteer. I wish I would have started before because it really makes me feel good,” said Wally. “Volunteering in cardiac rehab gives me the chance to share with people coming in like I did and say ‘Hey, one day at a time. You’re going to feel better. Stick with the program. They do a good job’.”

For Wally, his experience at Baystate Medical Center has been a positive one.

“They have a great system to help you get back on your feet and feeling like a whole person again,” said Wally. “The whole program is top shelf. I couldn’t be happier.”

To learn how you can support programs like these through a donation, visit Baystate Health Foundation.