Teamwork and Expertise Saves Adventist Medical Center Patient

For Jerry and Sharon Kruger, May 3, began as a typical spring day in central Oregon’s picturesque Willamette Valley. The pair spent the morning working in the yard of their McMinnville home, until Sharon retreated back into the house. When Jerry joined her a few minutes later, he discovered she wasn’t feeling well. Just a little heartburn, Sharon said—nothing to worry about.

But in the moments that followed, Sharon’s discomfort drastically escalated. Heartburn turned to nausea; in the bathroom, Sharon lost consciousness and collapsed.

Jerry quickly dialed the local hospital and followed CPR instructions from the person on the other end of the line. Within minutes, EMTs arrived to attend to Sharon.

At the hospital in McMinnville, the news was grim. Sharon had suffered a heart attack and would likely need a stent—a tiny wire mesh tube that would hold open her artery after it was cleared.

A cardiologist at the hospital suggested two area physicians he could call. One of those doctors was interventional cardiologist Brad Titus, a member of the medical staff at Adventist Medical Center (AMC) in Portland. The decision was quickly made, and Sharon was prepped for transport to AMC.

Although the cities are more than an hour apart by road, a helicopter rushed Sharon from McMinnville to Portland in minutes. Titus and his team went right to work when Sharon arrived, inserting two stents into her arteries.

“With a heart attack patient, the saying is ‘time is muscle,’” Titus said. “So when the artery is closed, for every minute that passes, the patient loses more heart muscle. Here at AMC, we have a well-established team of physicians, nurses and technicians who work together very well to get a patient into a cardiac cath lab quickly, with the goal of opening the artery promptly to preserve heart muscle and function.”

Sharon was transferred from AMC’s cardiac catheterization lab to the facility’s intensive care unit (ICU) and spent five days in the hospital. Thankfully, doctors determined that she had sustained no brain damage from oxygen deprivation during her heart attack.

The Krugers credit the rapid response of McMinnville’s paramedics and the expertise of Titus and his team for saving Sharon’s life and preserving her heart and brain function.

“Everything went like clockwork,” Sharon said. “Everyone knew what they needed to do, and they did it.”

But beyond outstanding medical skill, the Krugers said they were deeply touched by the kindness and compassion of the physicians, nurses and other staff at AMC who attended to them during Sharon’s hospitalization.

“It would be hard to put into words the gratitude we have for the care they gave,” Jerry said. “They all went above and beyond. All I can say is ‘thank you.’”

See and hear Jerry and Sharon’s story in their own words at

September 01, 2006 / Adventist Health