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The Meaning of Care Magazine

For Western Iowans, the Best Cardiac Care Is Close to Home

Published: April 21, 2021

When a life is on the line, every minute counts. That’s why western Iowa residents are fortunate that a highly accredited cardiac care center is only minutes away.

The Methodist Jennie Edmundson Hospital cardiac program stands ready 24/7 for cardiac patients, whether they require emergency care, surgery, follow-up procedures or continued therapy.

For Ronald Bendorf, MD, many factors came together on a cold evening in January 2019 that some might call coincidence – but he considers them blessings that saved his life. The greatest of them all, he said, was the expert care he received from the Jennie Edmundson cardiac team.

“I am convinced I would not be here today if the ambulance had taken me anywhere else,” said Ronald, a retired Council Bluffs psychiatrist.

Ronald’s story began in 2007, when he underwent a four-vessel cardiac bypass surgery. The operation was successful, but over time he began to experience further blockage issues. Ronald’s physician at the time recommended that he travel out of the area to have stents placed in four of his heart vessels.

Ronald and his wife, Judy, traveled to another state, and he underwent the surgery in January 2019. The cardiac surgeons, however, had difficulty placing the stents. Because of the extensive time Ronald was under anesthesia, they were able to place three of the four stents, said Ronald’s son, Eric Bendorf, MD, a general surgeon at Jennie Edmundson.

About a week after the Bendorfs returned home, their daughter, Emily, and son-in-law, Matt, brought their children over for a family dinner.

Ronald believes that was the first blessing.

“After dinner, I started to have a pain in my chest,” he said. “I started to get up from my chair and slumped back over.”

Emily immediately called 911. A crew from Lewis Township Fire and Rescue responded to the Bendorfs’ rural Pottawattamie County home.

After Ronald was placed in the ambulance, one of the paramedics telephoned Dr. Bendorf – blessing No. 2, Ronald said.

“It just so happened to be the night of the annual medical staff meeting and dinner at Jennie Edmundson,” Dr. Bendorf said. “I was sitting in the cafeteria near Dr. Joseph Ayoub and Dr. Robert Armbruster, two of our cardiologists. I told them my dad was on his way in.”

The three doctors met the ambulance at the Emergency Department, and within minutes they had taken Ronald to the cardiac catheterization lab. Drs. Ayoub and Armbruster worked together to open one of the stents that had collapsed, and they also placed a stent in his fourth vessel, which was still awaiting completion. 

Ronald now has a pacemaker and sees Dr. Ayoub for his cardiac care. His story was told Feb. 25 at the annual Dance to the Beat fundraiser to benefit uninsured and underinsured cardiovascular patients at Jennie Edmundson. Held virtually this year because of COVID-19, the event featured an online auction and other patient stories, raising $32,000.

For Ronald, the annual event was blessing No. 3.  

“The fact that so many people gathered online to support our cardiac program here in Council Bluffs is a testament to its value,” said Tara Slevin, vice president of volunteer services and chief development officer at Methodist Jennie Edmundson Hospital.

Pictured above, from left: Dr. Robert Armbruster, Dr. Ronald Bendorf, Dr. Eric Bendorf and Dr. Joseph Ayoub

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