Local Businessman Keeping the Beat and Film Rolling
Each February, which is recognized as American Heart Month, we think about the privilege we have of caring for the hearts of so many in our community. We’re honored to share how one local businessman is keeping the beat and film rolling thanks to the following story of compassionate care.
Gary York, owner of Glass Sword Cinema in West Plains, has always made an effort to stay fit and healthy. Given his seemingly healthy state and having no history of heart disease on either side of his family, a steep decline in his heart’s health came as a shock in November of 2019.
"I started to notice I was losing stamina in my normal activities, like climbing the stairs in my cinema, golfing, and more,” Gary said.
After not feeling good for some time, he decided to see his primary care physician. After undergoing several tests and labs, Gary left to work at the movie theatre and received a call from his doctor.
“He told me, ‘I don’t know how to tell you this, but you’ve either had or are having a heart attack, and you need to go to the Emergency Department right now,” Gary said.
Upon arriving at Ozarks Healthcare’s Emergency Department, Gary’s blood pressure was very elevated. Gary lost consciousness after his heart rate plummeted. Dr. Curtis Horstman, Medical Director of Ozarks Healthcare’s Emergency Department, determined Gary needed to have a temporary pacemaker installed right away. At the time, Ozarks Healthcare’s Catheterization Laboratory (Cath Lab) was occupied with another emergency case. At the same time, Dr. Biplab Saha, board-certified pulmonologist, critical care physician, and a recent transplant to Ozarks Healthcare at the time, had stopped by Gary’s room to see if he could help. When the discussion turned to needing to place the pacemaker in the Emergency Department, Dr. Saha volunteered to perform the procedure. Although Dr. Saha had only been at Ozarks Healthcare for a week, he had performed the procedure at previous assignments.
Dr. Saha performed the procedure, and sent Gary to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), where he met Dr. Kevin Crowe, former cardiologist at Ozarks Healthcare.
“Even though it was 10 p.m., Dr. Crowe told me he would see me first thing in the morning,” Gary said. “I was greeted by that big mustache at 5:30 a.m. After my angiogram, Dr. Crowe told me I had a 99 percent blockage and had experienced a widowmaker heart attack.”
A widowmaker heart attack occurs when the left anterior descending (LAD) artery, which supplies blood to the front part of the heart, is blocked at its origin. Because it serves such a big area of the heart, the LAD artery is a particularly dangerous place to get a clot.
Because his heart was healthy when the attack occurred, Gary’s body had tried to heal itself, creating a natural bypass. Gary received a stent and balloon in another location of his heart to continue to help him heal.
After his procedure, Dr. Saha came to visit Gary and created a special bond between physician and patient over Gary’s true love: movies.
“I was surprised by our conversation and asked Dr. Saha if he knew what I did for a living,” Gary said. “He said he had no idea before visiting him.”
Gary continued his heart care with Dr. Muhammad Kahn, Ozarks Healthcare Heart and Lung Center.
“Dr. Kahn drew a diagram of my heart to really explain what had happened,” Gary said. “This reassured me and gave me peace of mind.”
Into recovery, Gary used Ozarks Healthcare’s cardiac rehabilitation services and returned to his normal activity levels, including running his cinema.
“Learning not to worry and eating right have been my biggest challenges,” Gary said.
Gary continues to run the Glass Sword Cinema, providing movies and quality time for his community, something that has become even dearer to his heart during the COVID-19 pandemic. Gary is also a COVID-19 survivor.
If you ask Gary how it feels to have lived through life-altering health conditions, he will say one word: “lucky.”
“I’m lucky to have had all my doctors,” Gary said. “I’m lucky Dr. Saha just happened to be in the Emergency Department, and that he was able to perform the initial intervention that saved my life. I’m lucky Dr. Crowe was there to see me in the ICU that night and the next morning. I’m lucky to have received the patience and care from my nurses and Dr. Kahn. I’m lucky for the supportive group in Ozarks Healthcare’s cardiac rehab services. And I’m especially lucky Dr. Saha really likes movies.”
Ozarks Healthcare is a system of care encompassing eight primary care and 17 specialty clinics, along with complete rehabilitation, behavioral healthcare, and home health services. While the 114-bed acute care hospital cares for more than 5,400 admissions, the entire health system has more than 364,000 patient visits annually in South Central Missouri and Northern Arkansas. For more information about Ozarks Healthcare, visit www.OzarksHealthcare.com.
Gary York, owner of Glass Sword Cinema, West Plains