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Quick actions by Palms of Pasadena Hospital caregivers save St. Pete woman

"I could've dropped dead": St. Pete woman's shortness of breath leads to heart valve discovery

November 08, 2021
"I could've dropped dead": St. Pete woman's shortness of breath leads to heart valve discovery

Care Like Family: Tonya’s Story

At 55 years old, Tonya Menendez was active, fit, and married to a radiologist at HCA Healthcare Florida’s Palms of Pasadena Hospital – not exactly an obvious candidate for an undiagnosed heart problem. While she’d had a heart murmur most of her life, it wasn’t until last year that anything seemed amiss. But then, she started experiencing some unusual symptoms that she tried to ignore for a while – and ended up having a syncopal episode at work. Her husband insisted that she get evaluated, as did her coworkers at Blake Medical Center, also an HCA Florida Healthcare facility, where she is a unit secretary.

Sent to Palms of Pasadena for tests, Tonya appreciated the kindness and competency of the technician who cared for her during her echocardiogram (echo) test. And she benefitted from the keen eye and quick action of the sonographer, who realized that Tonya was in a dangerous situation. She immediately got on the phone with her colleague, cardiologist Dr. Samantha Avery, who stopped what she was doing and dialed in to see the images.

Tonya’s echo showed a bicuspid aortic valve (congenital) with severe aortic stenosis, and within 30 minutes, Dr. Avery was on the phone with noted heart surgeon Dr. Christiano Caldeira at Largo Medical Center, another HCA Florida Healthcare facility. That same week, Tonya underwent a successful aortic valve replacement and aortic root procedure with no postoperative complications.

Today, Tonya is continuing her recovery without any of her previous symptoms. She’s grateful for the amazing care she received from her HCA Florida Healthcare family, including physicians, Dr. Avery and Dr. Caldeira, as well as her sonographer, echo technician and cardiac catheterization technician at Palms of Pasadena. Together, this amazing team care for her like family, providing the outstanding expertise, efficiency and passion to help Tonya get back to the life she loves.

Read more about Tonya's story on WFLA.

November 08, 2021
HCA Florida Pasadena Hospital