A heart-stopping moment
Eagle Valley Enterprise
Vail CO Colorado
Ismael Hermosillo wouldn’t be here today if the Gypsum Urgent Emergent Care facility had not been there.
On Dec. 4, Hermosillo, 63, was saved from a heart attack – and his was the first life saved by GUEC, which opened in April.
“He probably would have died if he had taken a car to Vail or Glenwood for treatment as he had intended,” said Dr. Larry Brooks, who helped save Hermosillo and is the GUEC director. “We put the facility there (in Gypsum) for just this type of event.”
Ismael Hermosillo is not a prime-looking suspect for a heart attack. He is able-bodied and “not one to just sit around,” said his wife, Marie Hermosillo. “He goes to the gym,” she said.
The couple went to the Gypsum Rec Center on the morning of that fateful Saturday. That’s when Ismael first felt something was wrong.
“He said, ‘I think we should go home,'” Marie said. “He thought it was a pulled muscle. I thought it was more – I had a bad feeling about it – and I thought we should see a doctor.”
The couple went home, stopping by a gas station to buy aspirin. At the house, Ismael’s chest pains got worse.
“The pain moved around,” Ismael said. “It was really bad and shifted from my back to my chest. It happened really fast. If you have chest pain, it’s better to have it checked out than to wait.”
At the time, though, Ismael didn’t think the pain was a big deal.
“He thought it was fine,” Marie said. “I didn’t, though. I called our son, who also lives in Gypsum, and asked him to come get Dad.”
Ismael wanted to go to Valley View Hospital in Glenwood Springs, but his son drove him to Gypsum Urgent Emergent Care instead. That was a good decision.
“His heart stopped 10 minutes after we arrived, and the staff went right to work on him,” Marie said.
After Ismael was stabilized, an ambulance drove him to VVH, where he underwent a two-hour surgery and four days of recovery.
“I had pain all the way to the hospital and a paramedic told me to keep my eyes open – he didn’t want me to go to sleep,” Ismael said. “I wondered if I was ever going to see my family again.”
“We are very blessed that GUEC was there,” Marie said.
“What made this case successful was the communication system, which includes the ambulance and Valley View Hospital,” Brooks said. “This wasn’t an isolated little area. Everybody worked as a team, and the outcome was very rewarding for all of us. (Ismael) was too young to be dead.”
GUEC is part of the Vail Valley Medical Center and opened April 14.
“They can handle any emergency there,” said Doug Smith, vice president of development and marketing for VVMC. “They always have a doctor, two nurses, a technician and an administrative receptionist on hand. We want people to know that so they go there for help if they need to.”
The need for GUEC was debated, at least a little bit, while it was in the planning stages. The debate was evident from comments on the Vail Daily’s website. Now, patients are visiting the facility with increasing numbers – about 300 a month, Smith said.
“Emergency medicine, to me, means every kind of medicine – illness, cuts, broken legs or heart attacks,” said Brooks, who was the first full-time emergency physician in Vail. “(Ismael’s) situation could have been different if this was just a doctor’s office.”
Gypsum’s town manager, Jeff Shroll, said the cost of the care center – “whatever it was” – instantly became worth it when Ismael’s life was saved.
The Hermosillo family members are making some lifestyle changes in the wake of Ismael’s close call.
“Afterward, the doctor told me (the heart attack) was waiting to happen,” Ismael said.
So he is starting a new diet. As are his wife, son and daughter.
“It’s a low-sodium diet, with no fats or good stuff,” Marie joked. “We got home from the hospital and our coffee and salt had disappeared – our daughter got rid of them before she went back home to Denver.”
The Christmas feast was pared down as part of the new diet, but the family was happy to still have Ismael.
“We are so glad that Gypsum Urgent Emergent was there,” Marie said.