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Published on January 26, 2018

Retiree finds new energy after heart surgery 

Three women wearing red shirts with the Go Red For Women logo in the right hand cornerWhat started out as a routine exam by her primary care physician ended up with a type of open heart surgery that ultimately put Kimberly Quick on the road to better health.

Ms. Quick, who will be among the speakers on “Wear Red Day” on Friday, Feb. 2, at UHS Vestal, said she was “one of those women” who always took her heart health for granted, unaware that she had been born with an aortic valve impairment.

A retired school administrative assistant, she walked often, watched her diet and had been a non-smoker for several years.

But in the fall of 2016, her doctor detected a heart murmur and recommended she see a cardiologist.  She became very anxious when the specialist did an echocardiogram and a catheterization and told her she needed an operation to repair the valve. 

She saw a UHS cardiac surgeon that day. 

“I was really scared,” she said, noting that for several years she had been focused on caring for her 93-year-old mother.  Then, suddenly, her own health was in question.

But she didn’t hesitate to follow her doctors’ advice and, in March 2017, just a few days before the Blizzard of ’17, underwent the procedure at UHS Wilson Medical Center. 

“What was repaired was something I was born with,” she said.  “I never had really noticeable symptoms.  Whenever I was short of breath, I put it down to seasonal allergies.  Whenever I felt tired, I attributed it to ‘getting older.’”

Following surgery, Ms. Quick, now 66, completed the recommended cardiac rehabilitation at UHS Binghamton General Hospital, then opted to join the wellness program there so she could continue exercising.

“I never liked gyms, but I like the one in Phelps Hall,” she said.  “The Cardiac Rehab team gives me the strength and motivation to try a little harder and do a little more.”

She’s also been able to return to some walking for exercise, and says she has a lot more energy now than before the procedure.

“At first after surgery you’re afraid to do anything,” she noted.  “But I was in greater danger of a heart episode before I had the valve repaired.”

She said that, during her surgery and recovery, she had incredible support from her husband Craig and other family members and friends.  She has also praised the UHS team that cared for her, every step of the way.

“Everybody was so excellent and put me at ease - the physicians, nurses, housekeepers, food service staff, everyone,” she said.  “And I was so glad that I didn’t have to go elsewhere, that I could have the operation right here in town.”

Her advice to other women is to get regular heart checkups and follow their healthcare providers’ advice.

“Sometimes you really don’t know your true condition,” she said.  “By following through, I’ve been able to do really well, better than I ever expected.  For me, it’s been a miracle.”

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The public is invited to the Wear Red Day ribbon-cutting ceremony, starting at 10 a.m., on Feb. 2, in the Lobby of UHS Vestal. 

Attendees are invited to wear something red – such as a sweater, blouse, shirt, tie, handkerchief or scarf.

The UHS event, held in cooperation with the American Heart Association, is part of the nationwide “Go Red for Women” campaign to raise public awareness about the seriousness of women’s heart-health issues.