Patient Testimonials and Reviews
We cannot imagine getting better medical attention anywhere in the world.
During a recent vacation to our friend’s place in Bal Harbour my husband, Christopher, and I were spending the day with her before our flight to England the next day. We are from the Bahamas so, whenever traveling to the United States, we stay with our friend for a couple of days for some rest, relaxation and good times; but this time things were different. I began to experience a strange feeling throughout my body. Then, it felt like my whole body was shutting down. It was as if my whole life was ebbing out of my body I suppose.
We were able to talk to a doctor on the phone who said I needed to be seen immediately and he sent us to the urgent care. The doctor at the urgent care. The doctor at the urgent care clinic took one look at me and called an ambulance which took me to the nearest hospital, North Shore Medical Center in Miami.
By the time I got to the hospital I was unconscious. Aimee Pantaloen, a nurse practitioner saw me immediately. I could remember hearing her voice saying take her to the ICU immediately. I was put on a respirator and life support; they were able to stabilize me. Aimee and Dr. Juan Velasquez, an interventional cardiologist, treated me so I was deemed healthy enough for the next step of my treatment, surgery. I needed a mitral valve replacement for one of my heart’s four valves and a bypass surgery.
I arrived at North Shore Medical Center in a very dramatic situation. I came to the hospital extremely out of breath and Dr. Velasquez said I was suffering from pulmonary edema. My lungs were full of fluid and they needed to find out why and how the situation may progress. An echocardiogram by Dr. Velasquez revealed that the mitral valve was severely abnormal. It was severe mitral valve prolapse, Dr. Velasquez said. This was something that had been diagnosed before but hadn’t been causing any problems and so we were monitoring it.
The mitral valve prolapse was the culprit. Once I was stable I was transferred over to Florida Medical Center, a campus of North Shore for the work-up. I had a coronary angiogram that showed some coronary artery disease blockage in the left anterior descending artery (LAD). I had a mitral valve replacement and bypass grafting of the LAD by a cardiothoracic surgeon. I also underwent a cardiac ablation to prevent any heart arrhythmias. The procedure went well.
Dr. Velasquez is on-staff at both hospitals and he was there both pre-operatively and post-operatively for my care. Before and after my heart procedures, I discovered that Dr. Velasquez has genuine empathy. Dr. Velasquez kept patting my husband on the shoulder and telling him I as going to be all right.
After I got out of hospital I went to Dr. Velasquez’s Tenet Florida Physician Services (TFPS) office for a follow-up and he talked to me like I was an intelligent person, he didn’t just tell me that my blood work was OK, he went through every single aspect of it. He took the time to explain everything. He’s very good at what he does. You feel so confident in him. Dr. Velasquez is calm and empathetic and obviously knows his stuff. We cannot imagine getting better medical attention anywhere in the world.
I never had any pain. Honestly, I’m a physical coward so if it would’ve hurt I would have told somebody. I couldn’t have gotten better medical attention anywhere and I know that.
I never thought I’d need this type of care because I’m still of the teenage mind where you think you’re going to live forever. My primary goal after everything was to get back to walking on the beach because we live on this very beautiful beach in Exuma in the Bahamas. But, you have to walk down a lot of steps to get to this beach so I had to learn to do it again. It took me about ten days, in increments, a little more each day, before I could finally get down to the beach. Now I’m back to the beach. I’m also back to my quality of life before my heart ailment like reading and sewing a lot, and back to doing all of the things that I love to do.
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To my great surprise I had a heart attack at home during boxing training with my trainer. I thought I was having gas pains. My wife had the presence of mind to look at me and told me, you’re going to the hospital. If it wasn’t for her I probably would have never went to the hospital. We went out to the car and she took another look at me and decided we needed to call 911. The emergency personnel came and were debating whether it was a heart attack or a case of anxiety. By the time I got to the hospital, the doctor who was on call made the determination it was a heart attack.
Ten minutes later, I was in the operating room (the Cath lab) with Dr. Juan Velasquez who saved my life. He put a stent in and I was out of the hospital in two days, I feel great. My life today is because of him. Three weeks after I went to the hospital I was able to go on a vacation to Mexico for a week.
Dr. Velasquez answered my questions directly. He spoke to me one-on-one and never in a condescending way. He was always supportive and constructive. Dr. Velasquez is someone I have a lot of confidence in and I will be forever grateful to him. He’s a great doctor and has a fantastic bedside manner.
I didn’t have the traditional warning signs you’ve heard about for a heart attack like stiffness in the arms or chest. I had what I thought was a gas attack. I took a break from the boxing training I was doing and after ten minutes I realized that it wasn’t going away and something was wrong. I don’t have a history of heart disease in my family. It just never occurred to me that I was having a heart attack.
Dr. Velasquez explained to me that a piece of plaque in my artery had broken off, a very random event that could’ve happened at any time. He told me that if I hadn’t gotten to the hospital when I did that things could have been worse. Dr. Velasquez said I had 90 minutes from when that piece of plaque broke off and clogged my heart for them to put a stent in and open up the blood flow. I was at about the 65 minute mark.
Most of my heart wasn’t receiving blood. Dr. Velasquez explained to me that once a piece of plaque breaks off and clogs the heart the way it did in my case, you have a 90 minute window to seek treatment or it may be fatal. He told me that my blocked artery is nicknamed the widow maker because so many people pass away from it randomly. Fortunately that didn’t happen to me. It rarely presents symptoms. I was in good hands. I was in a place where people knew what they were doing. Reaction time was quick and they took care of me and saved my life.
The stent procedure itself was not painful. Once they gave me the morphine I wasn’t in any pain or distress. I was in the hospital just for recuperating and monitoring. After I came out of the operating room after several hours, I felt fine. I was ready to go right then but they insisted on keeping me for a while to make sure everything was OK.
I am in the best shape of my life. I feel great. I have a good mental attitude and I feel I have been given a second chance at life that I’m going to use.
I am so thankful that my heart attack led me to Dr. Juan Velasquez who saved my life. He’s my doctor today. I have complete confidence and faith in him. I am glad I was taken to North Shore Medical Center in Miami where I received the best treatment anyone could ever have. The nurses at the North Shore Medical Center were attentive. If I had to be taken somewhere I am glad I was taken there. They literally saved my life.
Dr. Velasquez’s office was a pleasure to go to, it was convenient and the parking lot was easy to get in and out of. Most importantly, Dr. Velasquez pays attention to you and it’s a pleasure to go to his office.
Dr. Velasquez told me live my life to the fullest and that’s what I am doing.
Julian Ramirez, a machine operator, is back to spending time with his family and watching soccer after a life-saving heart procedure by Dr. Juan Velasquez.
The day before my daughter was getting married I had a horrible heart attack. I remember having a really intense chest pain the moment of my heart attack. My family quickly called 911 and the ambulance brought me to Florida Medical Center, a campus of North Shore. When we arrived, the nurses at the hospital were ready for me and Dr. Juan Velasquez, an interventional cardiologist, informed me what was going on with my heart.
Dr. Velasquez told me I had a really bad heart attack and my main artery was clogged. He talked to my family to let them know the treatment he planned for me. Dr. Velasquez returned minutes later and began a procedure that would save my life. Going through my groin, he performed a cardiac catheterization to place a stent to open up a blockage, which formed inside of my artery. I remember being awake the whole time, talking with Dr. Velasquez and everybody in the room.
Dr. Velasquez is a great doctor. I spent only three days in the hospital and after two weeks, I had a follow-up appointment with Dr. Velasquez at his office. The experience was really good and everyone at Dr. Velasquez’s office was so kind. Dr. Velasquez is a really nice guy. He answered all of my questions and because he speaks Spanish, I felt very comfortable with him. I would recommend Dr. Velasquez to anyone because he’s a great doctor.
Today, I feel really good and I feel like my heart is getting better. I do wear a LifeVest® external defibrillator just in case my heart stops which will shock my heart and wake it up. I wear it every day and night.
I am happy to be alive and spending time with my wife, three daughters and my extended family. All three of my daughters are married, so I also have three sons, add my in-laws in and I belong to a very big family. I was told that my family, of about 50 people, was at the hospital during my procedure so the waiting room was full. My family was happy with Dr. Velasquez and the way he treated me.
Today, I am back to more of the things I really enjoy, which is traveling and watching soccer games. My favorite team is Real Madrid because my favorite player, James Rodriguez, is on the team. I am living a normal life with no limitations, just like I was before I had the heart attack.
Chuck Nieves, a Coral Springs resident, is back out at sea thanks to heart saving care by his heart surgeon and cardiologist.
As a chief engineer with the United States Merchant Marine, I live on the ship for six months out of the year working to take care of and fix all the machinery, everything from the engines, main propulsion, hydraulics to controllers, electrical and switchboards and even the heavy lift cranes while my crew and I are out at sea. I guess you can say I like fixing things. Each tour on the ship varies from three to as much as six months at a time. But, before I step aboard, I have to pass a physical, which I have never failed in my 24-years on the job. This last time I went for my physical,
the doctor told me I failed because a very disruptive heart murmur was detected.
I had no idea my heart was in trouble. The doctor said it sounds like I might have an aortic valve problem and possibly major regurgitation. First, they sent me for a nuclear stress test and then for an echocardiogram (echo) which both came back showing that I was definitely going to need surgery. I was told that I would also need a transesophageal echo (TEE) test and an additional catheterization test to find out the extent of all my problems because I could also have aneurysms.
At that time, my brother-in-law shared some information with me on two TFPS physicians, Dr. Erik Beyer, a cardiothoracic surgeon, and Dr. Juan Velasquez, an interventional cardiologist. Both are on staff at Florida Medical Center, a campus of North Shore located in Fort Lauderdale. I looked over the information and was very impressed with Dr. Beyer’s background in mini-access surgery (minimally invasive surgery) which I was hoping to get and Dr. Velasquez’s experience in cardiovascular medicine. Due to so many of the issues with my heart I did not qualify for the mini-access surgery.
Dr. Velasquez conducted the TEE test on me. He did an arterial scope and then a vein inspection through my groin. I’m glad I chose the team quickly because the day of the test, I started breathing heavily and even started feeling a little bit of pain. Dr. Velasquez noticed my symptoms and sent me straight to the emergency room.
Dr. Beyer and Dr. Velasquez explained everything to us in layman’s terms. They took the time to explain what was happening to my wife, who has a medical background, and I, in a way we could understand. My wife, Wanda, said they were very thorough and didn’t miss a thing. Before the surgery, Dr. Beyer and Dr. Velasquez took the time to show me some of the new facilities for cardiology at Florida Medical Center.
Dr. Beyer did the best thing for me which was open-heart surgery. It was a complex surgery. I underwent surgery for an aortic root replacement, aortic valve replacement, mitral valve repair and a patent foramen ovale (PFO) via a catheter based procedure. After the surgery, Dr. Beyer seemed very confident about his assessment. He’s really a great physician and he’s always positive. Dr. Velasquez came to see me every morning I was in the hospital. Wanda said they were always positive, made sure they were giving me the best treatment, discussed medications I would need to be taking and informed her of the best route I needed to take for a healthy recovery. Being positive and informative, I think are the very most important aspects in recovery.
My wife was impressed with how good my incision looks today. She says it is a perfect straight line and even my new primary care doctor said that incision was done really nicely, which is a nice compliment to Dr. Beyer from another physician. I left the hospital exactly one week after having open-heart surgery and had no major complications. I am looking forward to the future of getting back to the boat and seafaring for a few more years.
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