Urgent Care Saves Man from Cardiac Arrest

“They did CPR. They brought me back to life!” says very grateful heart attack survivor David LeBlanc whose life was saved thanks to UConn Health Canton Urgent Care staff on March 9, along with UConn ambulance and rapid heart attack care by UConn John Dempsey Hospital.

David LeBlanc

One of the many happy patients cared for by UConn John Dempsey Hospital, David LeBlanc, a survivor of cardiac arrest in March 2023.

Last Thursday David LeBlanc, 68, of New Hartford wasn’t feeling well. He thought it might be acid reflux. But then he started to feel worse.

“The amount of pain I was having in my chest became unbearable,” LeBlanc recalls.  “I knew I was in a dire situation.”

David LeBlanc at UConn John Dempsey Hospital where he received heart attack care in the Cardiac Cath Lab.

His wife Ann started driving him toward UConn John Dempsey Hospital’s Emergency Department.

But when the chest pain became more severe they decided to stop on the way just in case at the UConn Health Canton Urgent Care for medical attention.

“We were on our way to the hospital. But we made a decision to stop,” he says. “And I am so glad we did!”

LeBlanc was only at the UConn Health Canton Urgent Care for a few minutes while Physician Assistant Barbara Pelletier was talking with him about his chest pain symptoms and taking his vitals, when she noticed something was very wrong.

“The EKG showed that he was having a STEMI, a dangerous type of heart attack!” recounts Pelletier. ST-elevated myocardial infarction (STEMI) is a heart attack caused by a heart artery being severely blocked and limiting blood flow to the heart muscle.

The Urgent Care team called 9-1-1 but while awaiting the ambulance’s arrival, the worst happened.

“The patient coded. His heart stopped. He died. The staff started CPR right away, then we shocked him with an AED,” recounts Pelletier. “It was scary! But we kept working on him, held his wife’s hand, and the UConn ambulance took him to our hospital.”

UConn paramedics & EMT
Enroute to John Dempsey Hospital, UConn Paramedic Tony Ruggiero (left) re-performed CPR and re-shocked LeBlanc’s heart again. He and his Paramedic Partner Frank Marotta (middle), were joined by UConn Fire Department EMT Andrew Faust (right), who was dispatched to assist the crew.

But on the way to the hospital inside the UConn ambulance LeBlanc’s heart stopped again. But UConn ambulance and UConn Fire Department staff played an additional critical lifesaving role in performing CPR again and shocking his heart with a defibrillator to revive him.

“There were so many staff there helping him,” recalls his wife Ann.

“They did CPR. They brought me back to life!” exclaims LeBlanc.

Pelletier and the entire UConn Health care team is overjoyed too with the patient’s successful outcome.

“I’m still reeling,” reports Pelletier who led the care team’s response. “This was a one in a million lifesaving care experience. We are so glad he made it to our UConn Health Canton Urgent Care, our UConn ambulance, and to our hospital for lifesaving care,” shared Pelletier. “A very happy ending for all of us.”

LeBlanc stresses: “We made the right decision to stop. If we didn’t I wouldn’t have had this best outcome. It worked out to be the right decision.”

His wife agrees.

David LeBlanc.
David LeBlanc.

“The urgent care was wonderful! It was amazing what they did for him. Without them his outcome would be very different,” believes Ann. “We really appreciate the help that we got from UConn Health.”

This weekend Pelletier, who helped perform lifesaving CPR on LeBlanc, stopped by his UConn John Dempsey Hospital room to visit LeBlanc and see how he was doing.

“I wanted to see him and say hi,” said Pelletier. “We all cried – and had a wonderful moment together.”

“It was great to see her,” says LeBlanc. “My wife Ann gave her a big hug! We are so grateful.”

After surviving cardiac arrest and receiving emergency heart care at UConn John Dempsey Hospital, LeBlanc says he is feeling much better. UConn Health’s Pat and Jim Calhoun Cardiology Center Interventional Cardiologist Dr. Peter Robinson successfully inserted a cardiac stent to open up the dangerous heart artery blockage.

“I am feeling good! I feel a big difference,” shared LeBlanc. “I really do feel much better! The nurses and doctors here at UConn Health are incredible. It feels good to be alive – and to be able to have a chance to be still living to hold my future grandchildren someday.”

His strong message to others is: “Don’t ignore any possible heart attack symptoms including acid reflux.”

“Thanks so much to the UConn Health Urgent Care for the exceptional, quality care of this patient. Job well done,” shared Anne Horbatuck, chief operating officer for UConn Medical Group and vice president of Ambulatory Services at UConn Health.

“The entire staff relied on their training and immediately took the appropriate steps to deliver the care necessary and provided life saving measures. Thank you for all you do every day to make sure our patients receive the care they need,” shared UConn Health’s Meghan Cavanaugh, director of Ambulatory Care/Canton, Simsbury, Torrington & Urgent Cares.