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Lutheran Surgeon Travels More than 200 Miles Round-Trip to Provide Specialized Cardiac Care

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Feb. 17, 2012) – In this day and age when examples of doctors making house calls are few and far between, a Porter County patient is on the road to recovery because a Lutheran Hospital surgeon went the extra mile to ensure his seamless transfer to Fort Wayne.

John Rackouski of Porter County, age 72, suffered a major heart attack Feb. 2. A team led by cardiologist Daniel Linert, MD, and other specialists at the Porter Health hospital in Valparaiso, was able to get Rackouski’s condition stabilized and implant a temporary device to help his failing heart maintain its pumping function. However, he was not recovering as anticipated and Dr. Linert contacted Lutheran Hospital for additional support.

Joe Ladowski, MD, cardiovascular surgeon and medical director of Lutheran’s heart transplant program, had recently met with Dr. Linert and his colleagues from Northwest Indiana Cardiovascular Physicians. Lutheran reaches out to skilled cardiologists and primary care physicians in outlying areas who recognize the need for advanced care for their patients that may not be available at their own local hospitals.

Per Dr. Linert’s request, Rackouski was transferred to Lutheran. Dr. Ladowski traveled to Valparaiso with medics from Lutheran’s critical care transport team in a mobile intensive care unit so he could personally monitor Rackouski’s condition during the trip back to Fort Wayne. Upon arrival to Lutheran, Rackouski immediately went into surgery where Dr. Ladowski performed a mitral valve replacement and five coronary artery bypasses.

As a result of this collaborative effort, Rackouski has made significant progress over the last two weeks. According to Dr. Ladowski, he is now breathing well on his own, eating better and his organs are gaining strength daily. Rackouski is expected to return home within the week.

While it is unusual for a heart surgeon to personally accompany a patient as they are being transferred from one facility to another, the medical teams at Lutheran and Porter deemed it medically necessary in this case to ensure patient safety.

“This is a great example of our belief that the delivery of unsurpassed cardiac care extends beyond the walls of our facility,” said Brian Bauer, CEO, Lutheran Hospital. “The best care ultimately involves human beings working together to do what’s in the best interest of the patient.” 


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