A Part of Something Greater
Looking forward to an afternoon of grilling, Skip Harclerode had no idea how quickly his life would change. As he headed to the grill, he suffered a sudden major heart attack.
His son Brent, an Eagle Scout who learned CPR over 20 years ago, happened to be at the house. Brent started immediate CPR until the EMTs from the Jacksonville Fire Department took over. By the time Skip arrived at the Emergency Department at St. Joe’s, the cardiac team was waiting and went right to work.
Skip’s left anterior descending artery (LAD) was 100% blocked. Since the LAD supplies most of the blood to the heart, Skip hovered between life and death as physicians sought to save a rapidly dying heart with advanced cardiac care. His condition was still critical when he was transferred to the ICU, where he stayed for 10 days. Finally, he recovered enough to transfer to the Telemetry Unit, where he was treated for an additional 24 days before being discharged. Once home, cardiac rehabilitation was part of his weekly schedule.
Despite this grim experience, Skip and his wife Judy see the silver lining in his cardiac arrest. “We simply were not aware that caregivers like this existed,” says Judy. “Everyone at St. Joe’s, from the cardiologists to housekeeping, treated us like we were part of their own family. Thankfully, the culture at St. Joe’s is such that each staff member allows it to become personal for them. This is rare and it takes courage. I am still receiving baby pictures from Michelle, an ICU nurse who cared for Skip right before she gave birth,” smiles Judy.
Skip and Judy have given a generous gift to support Miracles Happen Here: The Campaign for Sustaining Surgical Excellence. “I am certainly a testament to miracles happening at St. Joe’s. There is such an atmosphere of faith and love at St. Joe’s that complements the science,” says Skip, an engineer. “It is our blessing to be able to support their work.”
Skip's condition was so dire when he was brought to St. Joe's that several people asked him during his recovery if he saw a glimpse into what may perhaps lie beyond this mortal life. For Skip, the answer was "no" because he doesn't remember anything after collapsing at home. But the loving devotion of his family and the specialized and comforting care he received throughout his crisis are proof enough to Skip that he has already experienced the light.
In gratitude for his life being saved at UM St. Joseph Medical Center, Skip Harclerode and his wife, Judy, are giving back.