Sentara Heart Hospital illuminated in red to celebrate American Heart Month
A heart lung bypass machine pumped blood through Debra Talbott’s body; her heart was in the hands of Dr. Joseph Newton, chief of Cardiac Surgery at Sentara Heart Hospital in Norfolk, Va.
In October 2023, Debra was diagnosed with congestive heart failure and pneumonia, and she had four weeks to find a doctor to perform her open-heart surgery.
“For years my cardiologist has been asking me to do this mitral valve replacement and I put it off because of my children,” said Debra. “I just didn’t feel I could convalesce for a month or three months and because of that I caused damage.”
“Dr. Newton was the last doctor I saw. Twenty minutes into our consultation I had a gut feeling that he was the person who I wanted to do my surgery,” said Debra.
Debra’s procedure was one of more than 60,000 performed by the Sentara heart surgery program since its inception in 1971.
“It’s a very busy place with a lot of complicated things going on, but all the staff here—the doctors, the nurses—it’s very important to us for it to feel personal,” said Dr. Newton.
In 2023, the Sentara system of 12 hospitals and 150 heart-focused physicians performed 28,000 heart-related procedures. Sentara performs one in five heart catheterizations in Virginia and treats one in four heart failure patients.
“The expertise that exists in this building, in the Heart Hospital, and within Sentara is amazing,” said Dr. Newton.
“If you’re coming in and you have a very straightforward operation you might not need all that talent,” said Dr. Newton. “But if perchance you need something more complicated or things get more complicated, all the resources are right here to make you better. I think that’s tremendous.”
To mark American Heart Month, the Sentara Heart Hospital is illuminated in red throughout February. At the same time, Sentara runs its ‘Who Has Your Heart?’ initiative to help people build a heart-healthy lifestyle.
The initiative offers resources about heart health, from healthy recipes to educational webinars. Visit whohasyourheart.com to learn more.
By: Kelly Morgan