Woman gets lifesaving care by conquering fear of COVID-19

August 4, 2020 Jaime DeJesus
Woman gets lifesaving care by conquering fear of COVID-19
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Bay Ridge resident Ann Apasewicz was in pain and it was only getting worse. And because of the coronavirus, she was afraid to go to a hospital.

“I didn’t really want to go out because I had an underlying heart condition,” said Apasewicz, 60. “I was having chest pains and my pills were making it go away until I started getting short of breath.”

When her condition didn’t improve, she decided to participate in a virtual visit with Dr. George Fernaine, chief of cardiology at NYU Langone Hospital-Brooklyn. She described her symptoms and Fernaine told her to go to the Brooklyn hospital immediately for a coronary angiogram.

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It was a lifesaving decision. The angiogram revealed that Apasewicz needed surgery to restore vascularization to her heart. She had previously been treated for coronary artery disease and has a family history of heart attack.

“Using our advanced diagnostic capabilities in Brooklyn, we determined her anatomy did not allow for stent replacement,” said Fernaine. “As part of a world-class integrated health system, we have some of the best cardiothoracic surgeons in the region within reach.”

Fernaine sent Apasewicz to NYU Langone Health’s main hospital in Manhattan, where Dr. Elias Zias, clinical professor in the Department of Cardiothoracic Surgery at NYU Grossman School of Medicine, performed a coronary artery bypass graft.

Although she was afraid to go to the hospital, Apasewicz was pleasantly surprised by the experience.

“The emergency department was cleaner than I ever saw,” she said. “Everything seemed to be so high on the agenda of keeping everything clean and safe. Everyone was wearing masks and gloves. It seemed like everybody had everything under control.”

Apasewicz believes that seeking medical attention despite her fear of COVID-19 may have saved her life.

“If I had stayed away longer, I could have had a heart attack,” she said. “The thing to do was face my fears, and it turned out there really wasn’t anything to be afraid about.”

“Delaying care can be deadly,” said Fernaine, who added that all NYU Langone Health locations are open and are taking extensive precautions to ensure patient safety.

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