By Michael Gold
A clogged artery recently gave me the questionable opportunity to compare the services of Northern Westchester Hospital and Westchester Medical Center.
Once a school yard athlete, who loved playing basketball, football and softball, at the age of 61 I had descended into gorging on sugar and fat-laden foods.
Giant chicken Parmesan sandwiches, pizza, frozen yogurt, energy bars, cakes and cookies from some of Westchester’s fine restaurants and stores all disappeared into my mouth.
This summer, walking around Rockefeller State Park, I experienced dizziness, chest pain and shortness of breath.
An attempt to make an appointment with a Caremount cardiologist in Mount Kisco turned into a hospital stay. Caremount sent me to Northern Westchester Hospital.
The staff was professional and personable. There was one strange event. While lying in the emergency ward, an employee told me there was a $150 deductible. As if I was purchasing a CD player at the local electronics store, I pulled out my wallet, found my debit card and handed it over.
I wondered about people who could not afford the deductible. What would the hospital do in such a case?
Northern Westchester determined I needed a stress test, scheduled for the next day. In the meantime, chest pain or not, I needed to eat. This posed a challenge, as I now needed to be careful about my food choices. I ate lots of tuna fish.
The food service was excellent. Patients choose from a varied menu and phone in their orders. Food arrives within 45 minutes.
During my treadmill stress test, I felt like a factory worker on an assembly line that speeds by too fast to place the product in the box. The doctor stopped the test after seven minutes. The results came back abnormal.
Northern Westchester does not have a cardiac care unit. Westchester Medical Center does. So another ambulance was called for me.
Westchester Medical Center is much bigger than Northern Westchester, but the nurses and staff were just as professional and caring.
I experienced one odd moment. When I got into my cardiac care room, a nurse hurriedly placed on the table by my bed a beef burger and fries plate, and then strode away.
Burger and fries for a cardiac patient? I sent that tray off and requested a tuna sandwich from somebody else.
The staff gave me an angiogram. They concluded that 50 percent of my one of my arteries was blocked. After the test, a doctor said I had to take a cholesterol-reducing drug. My diet would have to change.
After this shock, I decided I wanted to live, so I had to eat better. Goodbye, chicken Parmesan.
To compare my experiences, Northern Westchester has a warm medical staff, with a great kitchen, but that $150 transaction in the emergency room was a little strange. Also, they have no cardiac care unit, a minus. Westchester Medical Center provides excellent care and advice, but how did a burger and fries end up in front of me?
I’m deeply grateful to both hospitals, but guys don’t take this the wrong way – I hope I don’t have to see either of you for an extremely long time.
Michael Gold is a Pleasantville resident.