Greg Mac Neil did not feel right. He had spent days traveling cross-country in his role as CEO of his company and for work with a nonprofit organization. After visiting New York, Washington D.C. and Chicago, he was exhausted and felt lightheaded, which prompted him to see his primary care physician.
The next 24 hours would change Greg’s life.
“I found myself at Sharp Grossmont Hospital through a chain of circumstances that occurred in a single day,” he says.
Despite being an avid runner and athlete, Greg underwent a treadmill stress test at his doctor’s office, but he did not pass. He was immediately sent to Dr. Kevin Rapeport, an interventional cardiologist affiliated with Sharp Grossmont Hospital, before being admitted later that day to the hospital for emergency surgery.
Doctors determined that Greg’s coronary arteries — the vessels that supply blood to the heart — were blocked by plaque causing the arteries to harden and disconnect. Greg underwent beating heart coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG) surgery. With his heart still beating and stabilized, surgeons took some of Greg’s healthy blood vessels and attached each of the ends to opposite sides of the clogged vessels, creating a new pathway for blood to travel to his heart.
Greg was in the hospital for nine days, with his wife, Amye, by his side the entire time.
“We have a strong faith in God,” says Amye, department secretary at Sharp Grossmont Hospital. “I was a bit stressed, but not fearful. We actually still have the heart pillow that the staff gave us when Greg was discharged.”
After being discharged, Greg attended cardiac rehab therapy, and five years later he says that he still feels “more than 100 percent better.”
“After that entire experience, I feel that I can run better, I can lift weights better, it just all feels better. The doctors and staff did a marvelous job.”
It was the seamless care that Greg received that compelled him to send a thank-you note to Sharp Grossmont’s CEO.
“I sent the letter to thank everyone for how they worked as a team over the nine days I was in the hospital. Being a businessman and having to form teams to do critical work, I had an appreciation of that, and that’s why I wrote the letter. I praised how well the team worked together — they integrated well, they passed me off well, you could see how they briefed each other well.”
The letter was shared with Beth Morgante, vice president of the Grossmont Hospital Foundation. Beth and the Mac Neils discussed the necessity and value of exceptional cardiovascular care in San Diego’s East County. It was during these conversations, along with Greg’s role on the Foundation’s Heart and Vascular Center campaign board, that the Mac Neils’ learned about Sharp Grossmont’s new Heart and Vascular Center.
The center is being built with help from philanthropists and funds from voter-approved Proposition G, a multimillion-dollar bond measure sponsored by the Grossmont Healthcare District to address the East County’s growing health care needs. Recognizing the potential to grow cardiovascular services in the region, the Mac Neils decided to donate $10,000 toward the facility.
“People give for many different reasons,” says Morgante. “Often it’s out of gratitude for the excellent care received at our hospital. Contributions like the Mac Neils’ ensure the hospital maintains the highest level of clinical excellence through expansion of facilities and acquisition of technology that we might otherwise not be able to afford.”
Slated to open in late 2018, the new facility is anticipated to be the first and only dedicated heart and vascular center in San Diego’s East County. The 71,000-square-foot space will feature the latest equipment and facilities, including cardiac catheterization labs with 3-D imaging technology and hybrid operating rooms.
“No matter the size of the donation, the idea that you are giving to a cause that is helping to save other people’s lives, I think that is something we are all called to do,” says Greg. “We are by no means rich people, but we do what we can to elevate the level of medical care for the community that we live in. Every dollar helps, as it is the notion of getting started in giving, and finding that there is value in it that matters.”
The Burr Heart & Vascular Center is now open.
Learn more about how to donate to Sharp Grossmont Hospital.