At Penn Heart and Vascular, we are inspired every day by the actions of our clinicians, patients and their caregivers. We want to pass that inspiration on.
By recognizing Heart Heroes, we are highlighting just some of the people that are making a heartfelt difference in the Philadelphia area.
So feel inspired, motivated and moved by these stories, and nominate your own Heart Hero today!
Suzanne Rogers, BSN, RN, CNOR
"The Heart of a Program" – that’s the phrase that colleagues use to describe Suzanne Rogers, charge nurse for the Cardiac and Vascular Surgery service at Pennsylvania Hospital. Suzanne is a part of every patient's care whether she’s scrubbing in for procedures or by making sure every member of the team has what they need to provide the best care possible. Her commitment to excellence is palpable and that is why she is a true Heart Hero.
Jonathan Epstein, MD
It is estimated that more than 2 million Americans are living with congenital heart disease (CHD). For those 2 million, physicians like Dr. Jonathan Epstein are changing their world for the better. Recently named Penn’s Chief Scientific Officer, Dr. Epstein has played a major role in the understanding and treatment of CHD. Through his research, Dr. Epstein is advancing the care of CHD in ways that were not thought possible years ago, and he is mentoring a new generation of scientists and physicians along the way.
Gary J. Vigilante, MD
Cardiologist Dr. Gary Vigilante has been treating patients at Penn Presbyterian for 31 years. Patients are drawn to not only his expertise but the compassionate and personalized care that they receive. In his practice, Dr. Vigilante has helped improve and save countless lives, including one family that called him the "family heart hero". After saving their father's life, he is now treating two sisters.
Maureen Kirby, RN,BSN
As a night shift nurse at PPMC, Maureen Kirby has been a part of many patients’ lives, and the impact she has made has not gone unnoticed. As one patient writes, “Maureen is compassionate, professional and caring. She treated me like family, providing exceptional care during some difficult nights after my heart surgery.” And we're sure there are more who feel that way. Maureen always goes above and beyond for her patients, knowing just what they need, making her a true Heart Hero.
Fermin C. Garcia, MD
Cardiac arrhythmia specialist Dr. Fermin Garcia often sees patients with complex conditions who have had failed procedures elsewhere. Searching for answers, they come to him for hope and a sense of confidence that he won’t settle for anything but the best. As one of his patients says, “Dr. Garcia has been my doctor for years. He gives it to me straight. He makes my wife feel at ease, doesn’t rush us even though these procedures could take hours. Dr. Garcia saved my life and for that he is my Penn Heart Hero!"
A highly skilled nurse in the cardiac catheterization lab at Pennsylvania Hospital, Anna Santos has an energy and enthusiastic attitude that is infectious. Never failing to show empathy and compassion, Anna puts her patients and their loved ones at ease. Combined with her warm, kind and caring personality, these qualities make her a true heart hero to many patients every day and an inspiration to her co-workers!
Kelly Anne Spratt, DO
Every day new patients come to Penn Medicine with the hope of finding an answer. As a cardiologist at Penn’s Valley Forge community location, Dr. Kelly Anne Spratt exemplifies the Penn ‘never settle’ attitude. During an appointment, she takes the time to listen and hear the concerns of her patients and their families; always taking that extra step to improve lives. She thinks outside of the box, ensuring that answers will be found. Dr. Spratt’s clinical expertise combined with unwavering patience and positivity makes her a true heart hero.
Debbie Gordon, MSS, LCSW
Having been a social worker at Penn Medicine for over 20 years, Deb Gordon has gotten to know her patients and their families quite well. Working with heart failure and transplant patients, as well as those needing mechanical circulatory support, her job begins the moment she meets a new patient and continues throughout their lives. One of Deb’s patients describes her as “full of both encouragement and support, as well as tireless when it comes to taking care of her patients. Deb aids patients and their families in coping with their diagnosis, connecting them with support systems and resources, and finding solutions to the daily challenges of heart failure life. This unflagging support for her patients makes Deb a true Heart Hero!
Staffing an experienced cardiac unit is not something that is quick or easy, yet Stefany McTighe does the job with grace. Day in and day out, Stephany coordinates patient needs, making sure that the appropriate staff is available to care for each patient on all five units at Pennsylvania Hospital. As a charge nurse she is a true leader. When it comes to making sure that patients get the best possible care, Stefany gives it her all, making her a true heart hero.
Christina Constans is the epitome of patient-centered care. To Christina, the individuals she treats are more than just patients. They are someone's mother, father, sister, brother, friend; and at all times, Christina shows that she is honored to take care of them. She exudes a compassion that is truly genuine.
Often staying late to help her co-workers in Pennsylvania Hospital’s Cardiac Catheterization Lab, Christina shows a dedication to her job that does not go unnoticed. Those that work with her, and those whose hearts have been in her care, certainly consider her nothing less than a Heart Hero.
A beacon of light - this is how Terri Ryan is described by both patients and co-workers. For 30 years, Terri has been a nurse at Pennsylvania Hospital. Caring for cardio-thoracic surgery patients is what she does best. Only it isn’t just that. By reassuring them before and after they leave the hospital for surgery, and providing them with the education they need to heal, Terri embodies everything it means to be a great nurse!
Terri goes above and beyond. She’s always there, putting a smile on every face and and never settling for anything but the best!
David J. Callans, MD
Known for never giving up on his patients, Dr. David Callans is often described as being a Heart Hero. As an expert in the field of electrophysiology, many times patients with heart rhythm conditions and complex symptoms are referred to him. But Dr. Callans never wavers; he accepts and tackles every clinical challenge that comes his way.
Patients not only describe him as dedicated and compassionate, but go on to talk about how he goes above and beyond, offering a new found hope - character traits of a true Heart Hero.
Joseph E. Bavaria, MD
Cardiac surgeon Dr. Joseph Bavaria has a way of making patients feel at ease. It is a common feeling amongst his patients that the stress and anxiety of their diagnosis begins to recede moments into their appointment. Beginning with a thorough explanation of the treatment plan to addressing every question and concern to operating with confidence and experience, Dr. Bavaria is a true Heart Hero.
As one patient says, “Thank you Dr. Bavaria for making my days better. With just the comfort of having you as my surgeon, I'm healthier mentally, feeling safe having you on board with my health care. Your calm, direct, yet warm manner has made a difference in my life.”
Check back for more Heart Heroes throughout the month!