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Matt & Sheila Howe… From Community Partner to Patients

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Matt & Sheila Howe

With his wife in her final month of pregnancy with their first child, the last thing on Matt Howe’s mind that morning was his own mortality.

He started his day like any other, as program director at The Plymouth House, a treatment home for those with addiction to drugs or alcohol. The Plymouth House and Speare have had a long relationship as community partners. Matt was leading a group session when he began to feel pressure in his chest.

At forty, Matt has been a vegetarian for 23 years and is an exercise enthusiast. He pushed the thought away that he was having a cardiac problem. During his second group session of the day, he began sweating profusely. Staff insisted on bringing Matt to Speare.

Nurse supervisor, Katee Foley, was working in the emergency department (ED) that day. She recalls how surprising it was to have someone so young and healthy come to the ED complaining of chest pain.

Matt was given an EKG, which appeared normal. Dr. Danosi, the ED physician who has worked with Matt, checked on him. Matt reported that he was feeling “a little uncomfortable.” As he was having his IV placed and blood drawn, Matt complained to Katee that he didn’t feel well.

“A minute later, I felt worse than I ever have in my entire life,” says Matt. “I couldn’t breathe. It was like 1,000 pounds was crushing my chest.” He then went into cardiac arrest and the medical team at Speare sprang into action.

“We started chest compressions and defibrillated him,” says Katee.

“The defibrillator made me feel like I was sucked back out of a black hole,” remembers Matt. The first thing he told Katee was that his wife Sheila was 9 months pregnant. Katee called her.

“Nearing the end of my pregnancy, I really appreciated how sensitive the nurses, paramedics, staff, and doctor were with me,” says Sheila. “They kept asking what they could do for me.”

matt at cardiac rehab

Once stabilized, Matt was taken by helicopter to Catholic Medical Center, a partner of Speare. He returned home five days later

Matt and Sheila rushed back to the hospital again on September 26th to deliver their daughter, Nina Simone Howe. Once again, Katee Foley was there.

“I was thrilled to be working when Sheila was in labor, with Matt looking so well,” says Katee. “To celebrate the birth of their child was quite an honor. It is not just the birth of a child but also the birth of a family.”

Sheila is quick to add that Dr. Ebner and the birthing suite staff are exceptional.

Matt now participates in Speare’s Cardiac Rehab program where he can get back to his active lifestyle in a safe environment.

“This entire experience demonstrates community care at its best,” says Katee. “To be able to see the happily ever after is what makes Speare such a great place to work.”

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