Linda Barry is grateful for the staff who healed her heart

February 13, 2015

P_Barry_CardiacWI15_1Some people call Timothy Catchings, M.D., a cardiologist.

Linda Barry has another name for him. 

“I call him an angel,” says Barry, 63. “I blame him for everything good that has happened to me over the past three years.”

Barry met Dr. Catchings three years ago, when she went to the Emergency Department with chest pain. There, Dr. Catchings performed a cardiac catheterization that revealed Barry had significant blockage in three arteries. She would need open heart surgery to correct the problem, and was transferred by ambulance to Mayo Clinic in Florida for the procedure, which is not available in Waycross.

“Dr. Catchings called ahead, and they already knew everything about me when I got to Jacksonville,” says Barry. 

At Mayo Clinic, a team led by Kevin Landolfo, M.D., performed triple bypass surgery. 

“Dr. Landolfo was wonderful,” says Barry. “He spoke to us in layman’s terms so we knew exactly what he was saying. He was so reassuring that I wasn’t a bit scared.”

After surgery, Barry spent nearly two weeks recovering in Jacksonville. Her sister, Lois Montgomery, was right beside her. 

“Mayo Clinic let my sister stay with me in my room the entire time,” she says. “They treated us like queens.”

Back in Waycross, Barry began having regular appointments with Dr. Catchings to monitor her recovery. She also began attending cardiac rehabilitation, a medically supervised exercise and education program designed to improve heart function. 

“Cardiac rehab can reduce the chance of another cardiac event by 30 percent,” says Rose Mary Harris, a registered nurse and manager of the Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehabilitation program. “People start the program feeling weak, scared and depressed. Over the course of nine to 12 weeks, they come out of their depression. Their fitness improves. It’s very rewarding to see that change.”

P_Barry_CardiacWI15_2Barry was no exception.

“When Linda first started the program she was so weak she could hardly come up the stairs,” says Harris. “Now, she dances around the room. She is such an encourager to other patients.”

Barry is happy to share her story with others just beginning their recovery. 

“Cardiac rehab is good physical and soul medicine,” she says. “We’re like a family. We all support each other.”

Though she completed cardiac rehab almost three years ago, Barry continues to exercise in the rehabilitation area. People who complete the program can pay a monthly membership fee to use the facility. 

“I like that there are medical people there to answer questions and help out if you do have a problem,” she says. “Dr. Catchings’ office is right next door, so I know he’s within arm’s reach if I need him.

It’s unlikely she will; Barry’s latest tests show a strong, healthy heart. 

“My last echocardiogram showed that my heart function was fantastic,” she says. “I am so grateful to Dr. Catchings, Dr. Landolfo and all of the staff in Waycross and Jacksonville. They’ve taken great care of me every step of the way.”

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