• Heart patient smiling

Ingalls/UChicago Medicine Partnership

Proves Lifesaving for Markham Man

The story begins on Jan. 31 when Steven Pilgrim, who had grown increasingly alarmed by frequent bouts of chest pain, made an appointment to see his cardiologist Dilip Shah, MD.

“I’d been popping Nitro pills like they were Tic Tacs,” the retired father of two and grandfather of four explains. “I’d gone through 25 pills in 30 days. My wife told me, ‘You’ve got to see Dr. Shah.’”

An angiogram at Ingalls showed a potentially lethal blockage of the left main coronary artery. If the artery closed up entirely, Pilgrim would have “died on the spot,” Dr. Shah explained. “He couldn’t go home.”

But without 24/7 cardiac anesthesia coverage at Ingalls, Pilgrim couldn’t remain there either. Dr. Shah knew that Pilgrim’s condition, though stable at the moment, could change at any time. He needed a hospital with around-the-clock cardiac anesthesia availability.

Thanks to the dinner meeting he had attended at Ingalls only weeks earlier, Dr. Shah knew exactly what to do. He picked up the phone and called Valluvan Jeevanandam, MD, Chief of Cardiac and Thoracic Surgery at UChicago Medicine.

Within minutes, Dr. Jeevanandam was clearing the way for Pilgrim’s seamless transfer from Harvey to Hyde Park. While Pilgrim was transported by ambulance from Ingalls to UCMC, his wife Leslie followed in her car.

“It was a very smooth referral,” Dr. Shah said. “Mr. Pilgrim was transferred to UCMC Friday, Feb. 3, and had the surgery Monday, Feb. 6.”

Takeyoshi Ota, MD, PhD, performed Pilgrim’s successful double-bypass surgery; following a 10-day stay at the University of Chicago Medical Center (UCMC), Pilgrim was transferred back to Ingalls for inpatient rehabilitation. Today, the retired electrical engineer is feeling better than ever and grateful he received the care he needed when he needed it. “Everything was well coordinated and organized,” he said.

One experience in particular brought a smile to Pilgrim’s face: the very personalized care provided by a UCMC male staff member. “He asked me when the last time I was able to shave,” Pilgrim recalls. “He shaved me, washed my hair and gave it a trim. I went in a grubby old man, and he really cleaned up my act.”

Dr. Shah is equally grateful he was able to call on UCMC and its world-class heart team as an option for his seriously ill patient.

“Mr. Pilgrim’s case demonstrated to me firsthand the real value proposition of merging with UChicago Medicine,” he added. “I had an immediate option for my patient with a trusted physician and medical center. The referral and transfer were smooth and seamless as was the transfer back to Ingalls. It was definitely a win-win for me and my patient.”

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