In November 2006, Bill Voerster was facing a major heart surgery at Kaiser Hospital in San Francisco, CA. While at the hospital, he was visited by a Mended Hearts Accredited Visitor who spent time talking with him the day before his operation.
“The release of anxiety and fear of the surgery was extremely dramatic,” Bill says. “I went into pre-op and then the surgery suite relaxed and actually looking forward to it. Then the day I was discharged another Accredited Visitor spent time with me to help me understand what I might experience for the next few weeks at home.”
Bill’s experience with Mended Hearts, a community-based, nationwide heart patient support network, made such an impact, he decided to join the organization in January 2007 and become an Accredited Visitor.
When he moved to Charlotte in October 2007, Bill discovered the area has three hospitals performing open-heart surgeries and none of them had a Mended Hearts program. So with the help of the Chapter in Rock Hill, SC, Bill began the foundation process. In 2011, he became the Founding President of the Mended Hearts of Charlotte Chapter. In the time since, he’s been the Visiting Chair and Trainer, and he now serves at the Assistant Regional Director, Mid-Atlantic Region.
“Our Visiting National Program has a proven record that the patient visit recipients recover faster and have lower incidence of returning to the hospital than others,” Bill says. “By providing hope, encouragement and education for a healthy, normal life following a major heart event, we are helping return productive patients to society.”
Over the years, Bill has seen first-hand how Mended Hearts, as well as his own experience with open-heart surgery, has made a difference in countless lives.
“In 2013 while making my rounds at CMC-Mercy I met a middle aged male patient scheduled for bypass surgery the next day,” he says. “I could feel his fear and extreme anxiety.
“Knowing exactly what he was feeling I decided to spend extra time with him. We had a wonderful time visiting about my experience and helping him to understand more about his up coming procedure. I was able to visit again an hour before he was taken to pre-op.
“I still get a Christmas card from him thanking me for spending that time with him and being reminded of his release of his fear and anxiety. That’s wonderful pay back. I am so blessed to be able to do what I do on a regular basis.”
On June 11 at CHS-Pineville, Members of The Mended Hearts of Charlotte Chapter 372 met for a picnic in the cafeteria at CHS Pineville Hospital and to present our annual nursing scholarships. Three scholarships were awarded to nurses from the cardiac care units at CMC-Main and CHS-Pineville. Two scholarships were made possible by the grant from the Church at Charlotte Jeremiah Fund. The recipients of the scholarships were chosen by nursing administrators, using criteria which reflect professionalism, commitment to healing and consistent concern for patient welfare. The scholarships will help the recipients pursue further training as nurses and nurse practitioners.