POCATELLO, Idaho (KIFI) – Heart patients in southeast Idaho will benefit thanks to the generosity of a Portneuf Medical Center Heart and Vascular patient. Ann Wheeler recently established the Wheeler Family Endowed Chair of Cardiovascular Surgery at Portneuf Health.
The endowment, held in trust at the Portneuf Health Trust in Pocatello, will be used for educational programs and resources to continue to advance the cardiovascular program at the hospital and to fuel the next generation of discoveries in the treatment of heart disease in the region.
“We are very excited and honored to be the beneficiary of such a thoughtful gift,” said Jacob DeLaRosa, MD, Portneuf cardiovascular surgeon and first chair of the Wheeler Family Endowment. “The Wheeler family lecture series on cardiovascular disease will bring speakers and experts to the region to discuss the latest research on heart disease prevention, as well as advances in open heart surgery and heart diagnosis and treatment.”
In February 2015, Wheeler was taken to Power County Hospital in American Falls, before being transferred to Portneuf. She was diagnosed with an aortic dissection, a serious condition in which a tear occurs in the inner layer of the body’s main artery (aorta).
“A torn aorta is a grave diagnosis and is highly lethal if not recognized and treated aggressively,” Dr. DeLaRosa said. “With a 5% chance of survival, the Portneuf heart team operated all night to save her life. Our team is impressive.”
As a teacher, guidance counselor, psychology instructor and part of a family of educators and healthcare professionals, Wheeler also saw it fit to invest in the growth and development of a regionally recognized program.
“I have wanted to do something to recognize the Portneuf heart program, and…a box of candy didn’t seem enough,” Wheeler said. “This donation has been in the works for a while, and an investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”
“The Wheeler Family Endowment is a true investment in the hearts in our region,” Dr. DeLaRosa said. “We are proud to offer comprehensive, nationally recognized cardiovascular services and this gift comes at the perfect time as we continue to grow our program. Great things are happening at Portneuf.”