In 2008, when Greg Zyla, then publisher at the Towanda Printing Company, was offered a seat on the Guthrie board of trustees, he was happy to accept because he knew that Guthrie provided the highest-quality care in the region.
“I knew Guthrie had an excellent cardiac care unit,” says Greg, who has raised substantial funds for Guthrie since joining the board, including through donations of his own. “Little did I know that in 2019 I would find out exactly how good they were!”
On April 22, Greg, now 69, had an exploratory heart catheterization procedure after talking to his doctor about discomfort in his chest and throat.
“Any time there is a problem with your heart, it is inherently stressful,” Greg says, adding, “I don’t think you could say there is a minor heart procedure.”
But Daniel Sporn, MD, FACC, MHA, Chief of Cardiology at Guthrie Robert Packer Hospital, and his team put Greg at ease.
“Dr. Sporn came in and he was such a friendly, personable doctor,” Greg says. “We chatted a little bit and he explained to me what he was going to do during the procedure. He was wonderful to work with.”
The procedure quickly went from routine to critical when Dr. Sporn discovered an 80-percent blocked artery and a 90-percent blocked artery in Greg’s heart. The situation could have turned deadly if not found and dealt with quickly. Greg opted to have stents placed then and there to open those arteries.
“I am living and breathing today because of the skills of Dr. Sporn and his staff in the cardiology unit,” Greg says. “Dr. Sporn did the procedure and I felt 100 percent better immediately. I felt like a new man.”
Because he was instructed to rest following the procedure, Greg was unable to attend the opening of Guthrie Robert Packer Hospital’s new Heart and Vascular Center at the end of April. The new 17,000-square-foot center offers more space, advanced equipment and technology, and enhanced safety and privacy to accommodate the area’s rising cardiac care needs. With growth like this, along with other projects like the hospital’s expanded emergency department and Guthrie’s new specialty care offices in Corning and Big Flats, it has been an incredibly gratifying time to be on Guthrie’s board of trustees, he says.
Greg sees the irony in his having donated to and fundraised for Guthrie, including the new center, only to become one of the last patients seen at the previous center. He also sees the situation as an opportunity to speak from the heart about the importance of donating to Guthrie.
“All these years, I’ve been a trustee and I’ve bragged about how good Guthrie is and how many lives they save. Now when I ask people to make a donation or consider Guthrie in their will, I can say firsthand that Guthrie saved my life,” Greg says.
The fact that people in the rural communities that comprise Guthrie’s service area can access high-quality care without driving hours away is incredible, he says. And it is only possible thanks to the generous contributions of Guthrie donors.
“Every single donation counts,” Greg says. And, as he now knows all too well, “Your donation could be an investment in the future of your own health care.”