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Patient Stories

kittell storke story

Not your usual stroke
St. Mary's saves retired veterinarian from major disability

Cornel Kittell, veterinary surgeon, husband, father, U.S. Army veteran, and Madison County homesteader, awoke in a panic. It was trash collection day, and if his family's trash wasn't at the roadside soon, he would be stuck with the garbage all week. His dash down the stairs ended with him recovering at St. Mary's Health Care System from a potentially devastating stroke.
Jerry Woodie Heart Story

Surviving a ‘widow-maker’
When Jerry had a heart attack, EMS and St. Mary’s saved his life

“The doctors at St. Mary’s saved my husband’s life,” LaVarne says. “That’s why he’s here today and he’s doing great.” Jerry nods and adds, “I’m 70 years old, and I’ve still got a few more good years left in me, thanks to St. Mary’s.”
John Hammonds thumb photo

John Hammonds new lease on life
Heart attack! Bogart man credits St. Mary's with saving his life

Within minutes of walking through St. Mary's doors, John was in the Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory. Dr. Neckman used the cath lab's sophisticated technology to find a blocked blood vessel in John's heart, reopen it, and implant a medicated stent that saved his life.
Agnes Jones thumb image

Agnes Gets Early Start on Breast Cancer Battle
Agnes Jones is thankful

Agnes is thankful for St. Mary's new 3D mammography technology, which detected a tiny invasive cancer in her breast. "I'm so thankful it was caught early," Agnes says. "I'm thankful I have been given an opportunity to fight this so soon, while it is most treatable."
Saving baby Isabelle

Saving baby Isabelle:
Physical, emotional & spiritual care at St. Mary’s brings family through premature birth

Go back to last summer. Chrissy Bridges smiles as she wipes away a tear in St. Mary's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. “This is the happiest day of our lives,” she says. Chrissy and husband Joseph are sitting on a sofa in a private room in St. Mary’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
Val Valencic

Val Valencic:
Speaking out about stroke

Milan is Val Valencic's given name, but he likes to go by Val. It's short, easy to remember, and easy to say. Except after the stroke he suffered last year. He and his wife, Bev, feared he would never talk again. Worse, they feared the stroke would lead the 83-year-old retired engineer into a fatal downward spiral, as they had seen with family and friends too many times before.
Stroke survivor Gene Austin

Living the Good Life:
St. Mary's stops Gene Austin's stroke in its tracks - twice

Gene Austin was living the good life. A retired veteran with 21 years of service in the U.S. Army, he was enjoying a second career as the University of Georgia’s director of operations and maintenance, spending time with family, working in his woodshop, gardening – and, he admits, smoking too many cigarettes.
Mike swinging golf club

Back in the Swing:
Hip replacement at St. Mary’s helps Mike get back to active living

At age 73, retired advertising executive Mike Fillichio was trying to enjoy life following a high-speed, high pressure career. But there was a problem: his hip hurt. His years playing football and baseball at the University of Michigan teamed up with decades of tennis, golf, work and normal wear and tear to make bone grind against bone. It hurt.
Jamie meets da Vinci

Jamie Meets da Vinci:
St. Mary’s da Vinci surgery helps Jamie Gentry get back to work, school and family

Jamie Gentry had been bothered by hip pain for years. She remembers her hip hurting when she played high school soccer in Grayson, Ga. It hurt when she married her husband, David, and when they moved to Comer.
Taking the next step

Taking the Next Step:
Five survivors come together to raise awareness of stroke

Two years ago, Oconee High School English teacher Sally Baker suffered a stroke that left her partially paralyzed and unable to walk or talk. One year ago, Sally created and completed the Next Step 5K, a 3.1-mile walk to raise awareness of stroke and support for St. Mary’s stroke programs.
Gibson out rehab photo

Growing Up Gibson:
The Williams’ story of miracles and milestones

Gibson Williams is two years old. Like most boys his age, Gibson is growing and changing every day. He loves to bang on drums, hang out with his grandpa, and help take care of his new baby sister. So what makes Gibson special? He was born with half a heart.
Health Heart Bob

Healthy Heart:
The good life after a heart attack

At first glance, Bob Fecho does not look like your “typical cardiac patient.” He is 59 years old and looks ten years younger. He follows a healthy diet, at times eating strictly vegan, and he exercises on a regular basis.
...“Both of my parents suffered heart attacks in their sixties, so the family history is there,”
Doris small rehab

The Long Road Home:
St. Mary’s helps heart attack survivor return to independent living

On Jan. 2, 2011, Doris Cleghorn was looking forward to going to Gainesville with her daughter for an appointment her daughter had there. True, she felt a little tired and short of breath as they left Athens, but she figured she had simply over-exerted herself during the holidays.
Carol swinging golf club

Beating Breast Cancer:
Stunned by a cancer diagnosis, Carol comes up swinging

Carol Schimmel’s personality radiates through a room. After just one short chat over a cup of tea you walk away with a hug and a new friend. Her positivity is positively refreshing.
Jeri highlands small

An Act of Independence:
Jeri Graves finds the right community at St. Mary’s Highland Hills

At 80 years old, Jeri Graves is active and independent. The matriarch of her family, Jeri spent over 30 years in management with BellSouth, then went on to have second and even third careers post-retirement. Jeri is not one to settle down.