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Paying it Forward

In February 2014, Betty Pendley was at a doctor’s appointment at Phelps Health (previously PCRMC) when she learned she urgently needed a heart stent. She was airlifted to SSM Health St. Clare Hospital – Fenton and remained in the Intensive Care Unit for several days. Along with the physical strain of having a serious health scare, Betty was also dealing with the financial toll of her medical bills: her copay for the stent placement was $3,000 and she had large medical bills stemming from previous cardiac problems. A year earlier, Betty had to have a stent, but the artery in her heart was so small that the first stent tore. Dr. James Spadaro, interventional cardiologist at the Phelps Health Heart and Vascular Center, placed the second stent and recommended Betty complete rehabilitation three times per week for 13 weeks at Phelps Health Cardiac Rehab Center.

Previous Heart Trouble

Betty’s heart troubles were not a new occurrence due to a triple bypass surgery in April of 2012 while still living in Florida with her husband. After her surgery, she was in the hospital for three weeks in order to regain the ability to walk, but was concerned the whole time for her husband’s safety, whom she cared for due to his dementia. After her surgery and recovery, Betty and her husband moved back to Missouri to be closer to their children and to move her husband into the Missouri Veterans Home in St. James. After her husband passed away, she decided to stay in St. James since her daughter lives close and she has other children in the Missouri area.

Another Round of Rehabilitation

Betty says the thought of having cardiac rehabilitation three times per week for a little over three months was daunting, and she panicked because she did not know how she was going to pay for it. “I called the insurance company to see what it was going to cost, and they told me approximately a $50 copay per visit,” she says. Although Betty desperately needed cardiac rehab to strengthen her heart, she knew she couldn’t afford it. Since she was not aware of any financial options, Betty knew she could not complete the recommended number of rehab sessions. “I just told them I couldn’t do it,” she says.

Ultimately, Betty decided to complete only the cardiac rehab sessions she could afford. “When I started at the Phelps Health Cardiac Rehab Center, I spoke to Helen Thomure about the cost of the sessions and how I would not be able to afford to do all of the treatments,” Betty says. “Helen told me about the Heart-2-Heart Fund and told me she would reach out to see if the Phelps Health Foundation and could help.” 

When she received word her sessions would be covered through the generous donations to the Heart-2-Heart Fund, Betty was overjoyed and relieved. “It was a great feeling to have the security of knowing I could get the treatments I needed and not have to worry about how I was going to pay for them,” Betty says. “It was truly wonderful and a miracle for me. I wouldn’t have been able to do all of the rehab sessions if it was not for the help I received from the Heart-2-Heart Fund. I was so happy!”

“The staff in the cardiac rehab center is wonderful; they are all so helpful and kind. Helen, especially, made the experience easier for me.”

During her rehab sessions, Betty had to complete warm-up exercises, workout on the treadmill and bicycle, and use a grinder, which worked her arms. All of these exercises were designed to help strengthen her heart muscles after her stent placement. “I enjoyed the classes,” Betty says. “Some of them were hard, but they all helped me to feel better and stronger. The staff in the cardiac rehab center is wonderful; they are all so helpful and kind. Helen, especially, made the experience easier for me.” She thought so much of the staff that even after Betty completed her 13 week sessions, she went back and visited them several times. She even brought her therapy dog with her to visit with everyone, as well.

Giving Back

Betty’s first interaction with the Foundation was from the assistance she received from the Heart-2-Heart Fund, and she did not realize all of the funds the Foundation has to help local people in need. After her positive experience, Betty decided she also wanted to give back. Now, she tries to pay it forward by donating a little at a time to Phelps Health Foundation. “Phelps Health Foundation is an amazing organization that truly helps so many people. It is a blessing for patients and their families,” she says. “I knew I wanted to help other people the same way I was helped by paying it forward, and that’s what I am trying to do. I send the Foundation a check two to three times a year, and even though it will take me a while to pay it back, I am still trying, because I know how important it is to give to others.”

Betty is appreciative for the great staff and care at Phelps Health as well as the assistance she received from the people who donated to Phelps Health Foundation. “There are so many wonderful donors, which makes what the Foundation does truly amazing. People are so generous and help people they have never met. There is no greater act of kindness than helping someone else who is in need,” she says. “I want others to know how fantastic the Foundation is, and to encourage them to give, if they are able. The donations to Phelps Health Foundation are changing lives for the better.”

For more information on the Heart-2-Heart Fund or to make a donation, please contact Marsha Rana Wayman, CFRE, at (573) 458-7946 or mwayman@phelpshealth.org.