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Giving From the Heart for the Heart

October 19, 2011

Sanford “Sandy” and Gloria Spitzer of St. Louis give from the heart, for the heart.

Both sides of their family have a strong history of heart disease and of receiving heart care at Barnes-Jewish Hospital. Sandy and Gloria have faced heart issues themselves.

About 12 years ago, Sandy suddenly experienced double vision while on the golf course. His eye doctor referred him to a cardiologist, who determined Sandy had a mild stroke (called a transient ischemic attack, or TIA). At the time, the cardiologist didn’t feel any additional care was necessary. This didn’t sit well with the Spitzers’ daughter, a physician in Wisconsin. She suggested Sandy seek a second opinion from her former classmate, Craig Reiss, MD, a cardiologist at Barnes-Jewish Hospital. Dr. Reiss recommended medication and follow-up care to prevent a full-blown stroke. After a TIA, symptoms usually disappear within 24 hours. However, once a person has had a TIA, the likelihood of a larger stroke is dramatically higher.

“I’ve been treated by Dr. Reiss ever since,” Sandy says. “I believe his care made the difference.”

Less than a year ago, Dr. Reiss had to implant a stent to open a significant blockage in Sandy’s artery—the same artery that caused a massive heart attack in Sandy’s brother more than 20 years before. Gloria’s specialized heart care goes back more than 25 years with Scott Nordlicht, MD, a Washington University School of Medicine cardiologist at Barnes-Jewish Hospital. After experiencing chest pains, Gloria had her first angiogram at age 53. Dr. Nordlicht diagnosed her with small vessel heart disease, a condition in which the small arteries of the heart become blocked, rather than the large arteries. This type of heart disease is more common in women and often difficult to detect.

“At Barnes-Jewish Hospital, more doctors are now investigating heart disease in women, which doesn’t always show the same symptoms as in men,” Gloria says. “Dr. Nordlicht works to find the right medications for me. At age 79, I live a good life and do everything I want to do, despite having heart disease.”

A Lasting Gift for Families Everywhere

The Spitzers’ experience with exceptional heart care at Barnes-Jewish Hospital is just one example of the expertise patients receive. Barnes-Jewish ranks 18th out of nearly 5,000 hospitals in the U.S. for heart care and heart surgery, according to U.S. News & World Report. For the
19th straight year, the hospital earned honors as part of the newsmagazine’s Honor Roll, ranking 11th overall.

In addition, the Heart & Vascular Center has been named a 2011 recipient of the American Heart Association’s Mission: Lifeline Silver Award. The award recognizes the success of Barnes-Jewish and its physician partners at Washington University School of Medicine in providing quality care to heart attack patients. Barnes-Jewish is the only St. Louis area hospital to receive this award, which specifically recognizes treatment of the deadliest type of heart attack, an ST-Elevation Myocardial Infarction.

Barnes-Jewish Hospital is a national leader in heart attack outcomes, consistently measured by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for having heart attack survival rates better than the U.S. national rate. Giving Back to Keep Knowledge Growing These achievements, combined with the excellent care the Spitzers have received, sparked a desire in Sandy and Gloria to broaden this care—and their support. For decades, they have supported The Foundation in honor of loved ones. They contribute to the M. Randall Spitzer Leukemia Fund in memory of their nephew, who died of leukemia at age 37. They also have given in honor of Sandy’s brother, who became ill after his heart attack from complications from diabetes.

Today, they are excited to support the heart care that has kept them healthy for decades, with the goal to ensure that it will continue to benefit their family, and our community, for years to come. To that end, the Spitzers recently established The Sanford and Gloria Spitzer Endowed Fellowship Fund in honor of Dr. Scott Nordlicht and Dr. Craig Reiss. This fellowship will support research in the new Heart & Vascular Center at Barnes-Jewish Hospital.

“Our family has been well taken care of, and we want to give back,” Gloria says. “With our gift, we felt we could attract more cardiologists like Dr. Nordlicht, Dr. Reiss and Dr. Alan Weiss, who cared for Sandy’s brother.” Sandy agrees. “The endowment for research and improved care will help not only our family, but everyone’s family. We want knowledge of the heart and how to take care of it to continue to grow through our gift.”

New Heart & Vascular Center Integrates Specialties for Better Care

In summer 2011, the Heart & Vascular Center officially opened its doors to bring together the departments of cardiology, cardiothoracic surgery and vascular surgery. Independently, these departments have nationally ranked specialists. Through the center, these specialists are integrated to personalize each patient’s care by coordinating the diagnosis and recommendations from each specialty into one treatment plan.

The hospital has made the Heart & Vascular Center a key priority now and for the future, ensuring that the most groundbreaking techniques in heart care are available to the community. The Spitzers, and all charitable donors, are a vital part of growing the center.

“It’s exciting to be part of the Heart & Vascular Center as heart care moves forward,” Sandy says. “Medical research and treatment over the last 20 years have grown exponentially, and I look forward to accelerating this even more in the next 20 years through our endowment.”

Gloria also has high hopes for the future of heart care. “A friend just had a valve repair, which until recently wasn’t a treatment option for her. Through our gift, I hope we can achieve significant answers to heart issues in women.”

To support the Sanford and Gloria Spitzer Endowed Fellowship Fund in Honor of Dr. Scott Nordlicht and Dr. Craig Reiss (#3435) at The Foundation for Barnes-Jewish Hospital, give online now. If you have questions, please call David Sandler at (314) 362-3499 or email
GivingBarnesJewish@bjc.org.

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