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Harold Engle and his wife Nancy walk through the cardiology waiting room and up to the desk to check in for his 8 a.m. appointment.
The 85 year old is the first patient in the outpatient services building next to the new Penn State Health Lancaster Medical Center, and he’s eager to tell anyone who will listen about how the doctors at Penn State Health saved his life.
He had triple bypass surgery in June 2021 at Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and spent about three months in and out of the hospital between complications and a gallbladder attack.
“He had a follow-up bleed after his surgery,” Nancy Engle says. “We had a very alert nurse who called the doctor, and within an hour he was back in surgery. He’s a miracle, and it’s because of Penn State Health that he’s here today.”
Groundbreaking Heart And Vascular Program
The Milton S. Hershey Medical Center is recognized worldwide as a pioneering center for heart and vascular care. Starting in the 1970s, researchers developed the first implantable heart assist device. In 1985, Hershey Medical Center became one of the first hospitals in the country to implant an artificial heart. Its patient survival rates for heart transplant and left ventricular assisted device implant surgeries rank among the nation’s best. Knowing this reputation, the Engles didn’t think twice about choosing Penn State Health for Harold’s cardiovascular care.
The couple live in Elizabethtown but are in the process of moving to a new house three miles from Lancaster Medical Center, which opened on October 3. “It’s nice to have something closer to home,” Nancy says. “We’ll only be 10 minutes away.”
Attentive Care, Comfortable Environment
The Engles barely sit down before medical assistants Angie Burke and Tiara Lane emerge from the double doors and call them back to an exam room.
Burke goes through the standard check-in questions, verifying name, date of birth, allergies, and medications, while Lane wraps a blood pressure cuff around his right arm. Burke takes his pulse, goes through his surgical history and discusses any changes to his health.
When the medical assistants step out, Engle takes a breath and gazes around the room. “Look at the market,” he says to his wife, pointing out a print of an original oil painting of Lancaster’s Central Market by local artist Lee Lovett.
Engle’s relationship with Penn State Health goes way back. Three of his four children were born in the former Hershey Hospital, and he’s retired from selling office equipment to local businesses, including Hershey Medical Center.
Dr. Joy Cotton, a Penn State Health cardiologist who sees patients at the Lancaster Medical Center outpatient services building, knocks on the door. After entering, she thanks Engle for being their first patient and reviews his health history.
He has a pacemaker and wants to make sure his doctors know the machine they use for his remote device checks might be unplugged for a few days during their move. “That should be fine,” Cotton assures him. “Your next check isn’t until November, and they’ll contact you if they can’t read it.”
At 9:20 a.m. the couple walk out the doors with a Penn State Health T-shirt and travel mug to take home with them as a memento of their first-day visit to the new medical center.