From Farmer to Heart Patient

Jan 10, 2019


Terry Charvet’s path from his life as a farmer in Washington’s Yakima Valley to Northwest Regional Heart and Vascular took many years, but today he’s glad he made the trip.

About 15 years ago, Terry’s primary care doctor heard a murmur in Terry’s heart. They kept watching it, and a couple years later the murmur was getting worse.

Terry’s doctor sent him for a local heart evaluation. It soon became clear Terry would need an aortic valve replacement at some point in the future.

Years later, that point was reached. Terry’s doctors knew it was time to act. His primary care physician suggested he explore robotic-assisted valve replacement at Adventist Heath Portland.

Only 10 days later, Terry was at his appointment at Northwest Regional Heart and Vascular with the very doctor he had read about on the website: Dr. Thomas Molloy, MD, the medical director of cardiothoracic surgery for Adventist Health Portland who has performed more than 2,000 valve replacements.

“It wasn’t like I was pushed off on someone else,” Terry says. Then he chuckles and adds, “It’s nice to talk to the guy who’s going to actually operate on you.” Together, Terry and Dr. Molloy settled on his surgery date in November 2018.

As that date approached, Terry appreciated how much Northwest Regional Heart and Vascular communicated with him and his local healthcare providers. They even contacted his dentist to arrange for his dental work to be completed early enough to not impact his surgery date. “They haven’t missed one thing,” Terry says. “Everything on the website is true. What they say is what they do.”

And so Terry and his wife arrived in Portland for his surgery. With his valve successfully replaced, he turned his attention toward recovery.

While Terry was a bit foggy for the first couple days, his wife remembers clearly how staff personally updated her every hour during his surgery—an experience unlike that of friends who had gone through surgeries at other hospitals with no updates.

As Terry’s mind cleared from his anesthesia, he noticed how the staff at Adventist Health Portland are uniquely happy coming to work. “They enjoy their job,” he says. “A happy worker is going to do a better job on me.”

His wife also noticed how the nurses attending his husband always welcomed her and introduced themselves. “They were very encouraging,” Terry remembers. “Everything was positive and positive reinforcement.

After just three days in the hospital and a follow-up appointment, Terry was ready to head home to his farm. He didn’t go emptyhanded: His heart team in Portland sent him home with a patient guide book that explained what to expect during each phase of recovery. “That was huge for me,” he says. “I read it every week to see how I was doing.”

Just a month into recovery, Terry walks a couple miles each day to help his body return to complete health and strength. As he thinks back over his entire experience with Northwest Heart and Vascular, his advice to his friends is simple: “Just come down here. Get a referral and come down here.”