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Quadruple Bypass Surgery Patient Thinks All Hospitals Can Learn from Hoag

Film and Broadway executive producer Ivan Williams can describe what it’s like to survive a heart attack. He can talk about his emergency quadruple bypass surgery. But what he wants to explain is how incredible Hoag is at taking care of their patients.

“All hospitals should save your life,” he said. “It’s how Hoag did it that is special.”

When what he thought was heartburn started to feel more intense, Williams drove himself to Hoag Hospital Irvine’s Benjamin & Carmela Du Emergency Pavilion. There, he witnessed what he calls “the best process I’ve ever seen in an emergency room.”

“Within two minutes, they had my vitals. They asked the amazing questions that they ask, and they did my blood work,” he said. “That is when they told me that I had had a mild heart attack.”

The news shocked Williams, who had just received a clean bill of health at his physical two weeks earlier. The next day, his doctor performed an angiogram. More shocking news came from those results.

“I had a 90% blockage of my widowmaker,” Williams said, referring to the left anterior descending artery (LAD), which – as the nickname suggests – can lead to sudden death with little warning.

In addition to the LAD, the angiogram revealed blockages of 80% and 70% of the other arteries. He was taken by ambulance to the Jeffrey M. Carlton Heart & Vascular Institute located at Hoag Hospital Newport Beach, where cardiovascular and thoracic surgeon Timothy M. Lee, M.D., performed a quadruple bypass surgery that saved his life.

Before and after the surgery, Dr. Lee explained the five-hour procedure to Williams and his wife, Erika, thoroughly answering the couple’s questions. Dr. Lee was patient and relatable – someone who the couple knew they could trust.

“Everyone was amazing. The care, the information sharing, there was nothing missing,” Williams said. “It was all 5-star. From the medical assistants to the nurses, the doctors, the feeling of support created first-class treatment all the way through.”

That first-class treatment continued through 36 sessions at the Hoag Cardiac Rehabilitation Center in Irvine, where Williams worked out under medical supervision. His comprehensive team included a registered dietitian, social worker and exercise physiologist, who partnered to create a personalized rehabilitation program for him, complete with goals, accountability and medical monitoring.

“I feel better than I did before my bypass,” he said.

Dr. Lee has continued to be equally supportive, taking his time with Williams and Erika during follow-up appointments.

“I cannot believe the amount of time and attention Dr. Lee spends with us,” Williams said.

“It’s just the icing on the cake.”

Dr. Lee saved Williams’ life. But how he saved it, and how he continues to respect and care for Williams as a person, not just as a patient, that’s the story Williams tells.