MH Jafferi Benitez Cardiac Testimonial HERO


Role Reversal: Life-Saving Care Is Unique Experience for Baptist Health Mariners Hospital Employee

Baptist Health Mariners Hospital

As part of the Baptist Health Mariners Hospital Facilities team, Carlos Benitez has spent years monitoring hospital equipment to prevent its failure and to ensure the safety of patients. While he’s always been proud of the care he’s seen his co-workers deliver, it was a life-threatening emergency of his own last April that changed his view of his colleagues forever.


“They are masters of their craft and I am living proof of what they are capable of,” Mr. Benitez says today, calling his caregivers his heroes. “Let there be no doubt that the dedication to care that they have toward patients and people is truly genuine.”


Carlos Benitez, a member of the Facilities team at Baptist Health Mariners Hospital


Mr. Benitez’s health emergency began at home on April 28, the night before he and his wife were due to leave on a vacation to the Bahamas. “I told my wife that I was feeling something funny in my chest,” the Florida Keys resident recalls. “She called the EMTs. Ten minutes later, when they showed up, I was already in deep pain.”


Within moments, Mr. Benitez collapsed. Emergency responders immediately started CPR but had to use an AED (automated external defibrillator) to resuscitate him, he says. Upon arrival at the Mariners Hospital Emergency Department, Mr. Benitez was awake but was vomiting profusely, breathing heavily and in pain.


“The ED at Mariners did a magnificent job,” he says. “The level of concern and compassion was very high. After an hour of extremely hard work, I had no more vomiting, no shortness of breath, no chest pain or headache.”


The attention to detail and the kindness shown to Mr. Benitez is what any patient who comes to the Mariners Hospital ED should expect, says emergency medicine physician Ghulam Ali Jafferi, M.D., who led the team that cared for Mr. Benitez.


Ghulam Ali Jafferi MD

Ghulam Ali Jafferi, M.D., emergency medicine physician with Baptist Health Mariners Hospital


“It wasn’t until later that I realized he was an employee,” Dr. Jafferi says. “One of the things I love about working at Mariners is that as a rural hospital in a small community, we have the ability and time to really connect with patients. Medicine is very personal and having that people connection is why I went into medicine.”


Calling 911 quickly is vital in surviving a heart attack and in minimizing the damage that can occur when the heart isn’t properly pumping oxygen-rich blood throughout the body. “It’s difficult for people to know if they are having a heart attack or if it’s something minor,” Dr. Jafferi says. “It’s best to seek help right away.”


Heart attack symptoms can be different for each person, but common signs include:

·      Chest pain or pressure in the chest

·      Pain in the jaw, shoulder, arm or back

·      Shortness of breath

·      Nausea

·      Sweating

·      Lightheadedness


Anyone with symptoms – particularly if they are over age 30 and have risk factors such as high blood pressure or high cholesterol, diabetes, are a smoker or are obese – should make a trip to the ER, says Dr. Jafferi.


Mr. Benitez, 60, is no stranger to heart disease. He has a history of high cholesterol and high blood pressure. In his 40s, he underwent balloon angioplasty to open a heart vessel that was partially blocked with plaque.


At 46, he had a “widowmaker” heart attack, which has a survival rate of 12-25 percent, according to the American Heart Association. It occurs when the left anterior descending artery, which carries almost 50 percent of the blood to the heart muscle, is completely blocked.


Ramon Quesada, M.D., medical director of Structural Heart and Complex Coronary Interventions at Baptist Health Miami Cardiac & Vascular Institute, performed a cardiac catheterization and stent placement to hold the artery open and allow blood to flow freely.


Mr. Benitez says he believes his focus on his health after those incidents ― becoming a pescatarian and limiting unhealthy foods, as well as exercising more ― played a significant role in preventing another heart attack for so many years.


The trip to the Mariners Hospital Emergency Department in April was just the beginning of a longer road to recovery this time for Mr. Benitez. After he was stabilized, he was flown by helicopter to Baptist Health Baptist Hospital where he saw a familiar face from Miami Cardiac & Vascular Institute.


“I was lucky to be in the hands of Dr. Quesada again,” says Mr. Benitez, who underwent another cardiac catheterization and stent placement and returned home after five days in the hospital. Calling his care at Mariners Hospital and Baptist Hospital as impressive as it was touching, he is now back at work and focused on improving his health through cardiac rehab and follow-up care with his cardiologist.


“If you treat your patients like family, you can never go wrong,” Dr. Jafferi says.


Mariners Hospital exterior




Healthcare that Cares

With internationally renowned centers of excellence, 12 hospitals, more than 27,000 employees, 4,000 physicians and 200 outpatient centers, urgent care facilities and physician practices spanning across Miami-Dade, Monroe, Broward and Palm Beach counties, Baptist Health is an anchor institution of the South Florida communities we serve.

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