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Published on March 16, 2021

Kevin Baker avoids a heart attack and gains a community of valued care providers

Kevin Baker leaving the hospital

Never miss a beat

Kevin Baker hadn’t been feeling well for about two weeks. An ache in his back had been nagging at him. It was the kind of pain that just didn’t feel right. With a family history of cardiac issues, the thought had crossed his mind that it could be his heart. On the other hand, he was still quite young and made sure he ate a healthy diet and exercised regularly. Surely, he thought, he was not yet at risk for a heart attack.

Cone Health scheduled an appointment for Baker — but things progressed quickly and soon he was headed to the emergency room.

“That morning it got much worse,” recalls Baker, executive director for Piedmont Triad Airport Authority. PTI was holding its annual Run on the Runway — an important event for Baker and the airport. But he knew something was wrong so he headed to the Emergency Department.

That’s where Baker met Hannah Muthersbaugh. She was the physician assistant caring for Baker in the Emergency Department that day. She quickly assessed Baker and helped him process what was happening.

“The way she handled my situation was perfect,” Baker says. “She was the perfect combination of professional and compassionate, and she gave the right balance of answers and assurance.”

The care team discovered that Baker had a 99% blockage of his left anterior descending artery — the one they call “the widowmaker.” The Cone Health team sent him to Dr. Tom Kelly for a cardiac catheterization and, days later, he was no longer in imminent danger.

“From the moment I walked into that hospital until the moment I walked out a few days later, I had incredible care. You couldn’t have scripted it better,” Baker says.

That’s one reason Baker serves as chair of the Heart & Vascular Advisory Board, which includes a number of grateful cardiac patients along with heart and vascular care providers. He says he loves working with Dr. Tom Stuckey, Dr. Jake Hochrein and other leading physicians in heart care.

“It is very clear to me when you look at the talent that is at Cone Health, we can become one of the best places in the world for heart and vascular care,” Baker says.

Four years after his recovery, Baker and his wife, Lynn, spotted a familiar face in The Business Journal: Muthersbaugh had been named a “40 under 40” leader. “It inspired me to reach out to her with a note,” Baker says. “I told her how much I appreciated her care and that she was the beginning of a really, really good experience. When Cone Health developed its ‘with you’ slogan, it seemed to me that they were saying, ‘Let’s describe Hannah.’”

For Muthersbaugh, it’s all in a day’s work in a challenging but rewarding job that she loves. “Our Emergency Department team steps in to provide stabilizing and lifesaving treatments every shift while coordinating with our specialty colleagues to make Cone Health an excellent place to receive top-notch compassionate care,” she says. “We strive to keep our patients informed and focused on making the best medical decisions during every step of their treatment. Education about their current diagnosis, our interventions and the ongoing plan helps them move past their initial fear and empowers them to help us make good therapy decisions as a patient centered team.”

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