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Wife’s advice saves life of 74-yr.-old Fresh Meadows man

Dominick Massaro usually does not heed his wife’s advice to go to the hospital if he feels pain.

But for some reason, the 74-year-old Fresh Meadows resident listened in October, and it saved his life.

A diabetic for 33 years and a patient at Long Island Jewish Medical Center’s outpatient dialysis unit for three years, Massaro was at the LIJ clinic in Queens Village when he felt discomfort in his throat.

“When I got a pain in my throat, it felt like I had gas. But it wasn’t gas, it was my heart,” said Massaro, a retired MTA bus driver who also used to bus seniors for the Samuel Field Y in Little Neck.

Massaro called his wife, Donna, about the pain and she told him to go to the hospital.

At LIJ, tests in October 2008 revealed that Massaro had four blocked arteries and needed triple-bypass surgery. He said he had never been diagnosed with a heart condition before the exams.

“I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for her,” Massaro said of his wife. “She always told me if you get pain, go right back to the hospital. She’s like a nurse. If it wasn’t for her, I’d be six feet under.”

Massaro and 77-year-old Woodmere, L.I., resident Charles Schulman told their stories during a news conference Friday at LIJ, announcing the hospital was ranked first in the state for bypass surgery success rates, according to a recently released state Health Department report.

Stanley Katz, senior vice president of cardiovascular services at LIJ and chairman of the Cardiology Department for the North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System, said the state report is risk-adjusted, meaning it gives more weight to successful, high-risk procedures, such as the ones performed on Massaro and Schulman.

The report includes data for the most recent year, 2006, and a three-year rolling average to determine if there is a statistical difference between a particular hospital and others across the state.

“I am proud to say there is a difference at LIJ,” Katz said, noting North Shore University Hospital also performed the largest number of emergency bypass procedures in the state.

With a bypass surgery mortality rate of 1 percent, LIJ was one of only two hospitals in the state and the only one in the Queens/Long Island area that had a mortality rate significantly better than the statewide average.

Dr. Jacob Scheinerman, LIJ’s associate chairman of Cardiothoracic Surgery and the surgeon for Massaro and Schulman, said this year’s report marks the second consecutive year LIJ ranked first in the state.

While rankings have not been released for 2007 and 2008, Scheinerman said the hospital’s mortality rates during bypass surgeries for those years were 1.4 percent and 0.8 percent.

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at hkoplowitz@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 173.

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