Who says doctors don’t care?

Yes Virginia, there are still some doctors who truly care for their patients.

On December 13, 1993, my husband Bill was playing golf.  Early in his round, he suffered a massive heart attack.  Bill was 56 years old.  Thanks to the staff and emergency room staff’s quick action, Bill was stabilized by the ER physician.  That same afternoon, Bill suffered a second heart attack, and Dr. Robert Barden performed Bill’s first angioplasty.

To make a very long story a little longer, for the past 27 years, Dr. Barden cared for Bill’s cardiology needs like no other doctor we have ever known.  Not only has Dr. Barden’s care kept Bill alive, but the good doctor met us at the ER every single time Bill was admitted, which number well into the hundreds at this point.

In 2004, Dr. Barden found a 70 percent blockage of Bill’s left main artery.  He told us that Bill needed help outside the expertise than available in Brevard County.  He knew I was working with the Cleveland Clinic Heart Center and suggested Bill get there ASAP.   Within a few days, the Cleveland Clinic performed a very new procedure called the Dor procedure and once they were inside, found that Bill actually had a 90 percent blockage of his left main artery.   A friend who had a similar problem was told by his doctor that nothing more could be done.  Sadly he passed away within a year.

In 2019, Bill developed stomach problems.  He mentioned this to Dr. Barden, who referred Bill to a local gastroenterologist. The gastroenterologist wanted to perform a PillCam study.  The PillCam is a large capsule that contains a video camera that the patient can swallow, and the camera records everything as it travels through the patient’s digestive tract.  Because Bill had an implanted defibrillator, the gastroenterologist said he could not perform the pill-cam, as it might interfere with the defibrillator.

Once again, Dr. Barden came to the rescue, offering to put Bill in the hospital and hook him up to monitors and turn off the implanted defibrillator long enough to run the PillCam study.  The gastroenterologist declined, stating he needs to do the study in his office.  Dr. Barden then called the gastroenterologist and said he would order a LifeVest for Bill to wear, which would allow him to turn off the implanted defibrillator, but still protect Bill should his heart go into arrhythmia.  This way, Bill could have the PillCam study done in the doctor’s office.  The gastroenterologist agreed.

This past year Bill’s dementia and multiple health issues continued to deteriorate.  Walking became more difficult for him, and he fell several times.  One fall caused a compression fracture of Bill’s L3 vertebrae.  Bill then required a wheelchair to get around.  On the day before we had an appointment with Dr. Barden, our phone rang: It was Melanie, Dr. Barden’s nurse.  She told us that Dr. Barden received a report showing that Bill had broken his lower back and said that Dr. Barden didn’t want him to come into the office for his appointment.  I was expecting Melanie to suggest a virtual visit.  Instead, she asked if it would be OK if Dr. Barden visited Bill at home?  I almost fell off of my chair.  A doctor actually making a house call?

The majority of my career was spent working with doctors within the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries, academia, and in hospital settings.  I have been very fortunate to work with some of the best and most talented doctors in the world, at most of the highest-ranked institutions.  However,  I can honestly say that Dr. Barden is and always will be one of the very best I’ve ever known because he truly loves his patients.  Bill and I love him for his dedication and caring.

My husband Bill passed away at the age of 82 on January 13, 2021.  A few days after Bill’s death, I received a beautiful handwritten message from Dr.  Barden, thanking us for letting him be Bill’s doctor all these years.  Every person on Dr. Barden’s staff shares his same level of love and dedication to their patients.  This world and certainly Brevard County is a much better place because of doctors like Robert E. Barden, MD, and his amazing staff of professionals.

Cindy Thompson is a patient advocate.

Image credit: Shutterstock.com

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