St. Francis volunteers raise funds to support patients 

Katy Suazo came into the Bon Secours St. Francis Medical Center Emergency Department late one Sunday in May, thinking that her pneumonia had gotten much worse.

“I went in with something very simple and it turned out to be something huge,” she said. 

Suazo, who had always worked, had recently lost her job after taking some time off to be with her baby.

She was already reeling from that loss when she learned that she was having heart failure. The free clinic she visited had misdiagnosed her with pneumonia, and her heart was working at just 10 percent capacity.

Suazo needed an LVAD, a left ventricular-assist device that replicates the pumping work of the left side of the heart.

But first, she needed to get stronger before she could have the surgery to implant it.

 Taking this time meant risking another cardiac episode. The answer: a vest with an external defibrillator that cost $2,900 a month to rent. The St. Francis Care Fund helped pay that expense until Suazo was strong enough for the life-saving surgery.

Volunteers and staff established the St. Francis Care Fund to help people who have been patients at St. Francis within the last three months and are in financial distress.

"I am so appreciative," Suazo said. "I felt like I was right at home the way everyone attended to my needs."

For Suazo, the vest helped keep her alive. She wore it 24/7, except when showering, for a little more than a month, when it was no longer medically necessary.

Thanks to donors’ gifts, patients get the support they need to continue life after being in the hospital. For now, this young mom is looking forward to celebrating her son’s first birthday – a priceless gift.


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