Heart to Heart with Eisenhower’s Don Pascale

My dear friend Heather from Houston fell in love with the Palm Springs Valley last winter, promptly put her mini-manse on the market, and recently became a full-time Rancho Mirage resident.  One of the many treasured possessions Heather hauled here from Texas is her collection of glass hearts.  The irony is that this woman has a minor, non-life-threatening cardiac condition that requires regular monitoring of her anticoagulation medication.  That was the only worry Heather had about the big move, since she had become accustomed to amazing attention at her home hospital.  But when I told her that the experts at Eisenhower Medical Center’s Desert Cardiology would take excellent care of her, she put her trust in me and EMC—and never looked back!

Much of the reason Heather is so happy with her desert healthcare is her regular interaction with a man named Donald J. Pascale, 52, who since January 2013 has been the registrar at Desert Cardiology’s Anticoagulation Clinic.  Always as cheerful as he is helpful, delightful Don checks Heather—and his other beloved patients—in when they arrive for tests.  His care and concern surely stem from the fact that before working for EMC, Don was both a patient and a volunteer there.

You see, after flying internationally for American Airlines for nearly three decades, Don fell ill in May 2008 and wound up in Eisenhower’s E.R.  Diagnosed with congestive heart failure and an enlarged heart due to viral cardiomyopathy, Don received state-of-the-art heart healthcare at the hospital.  Having grown quite close to cardiac nurses Yuri Krochmaluk and MJ Killen during his stay, Don—in improved health but growing restless six months after his release—returned to the Congestive Heart Failure Clinic to ask if they could use a volunteer.  They signed him up that very day in January 2009.

Taking early retirement from American, Don volunteered at Eisenhower for four years—enjoying every hour of it.  So when a paying job opened up at Desert Cardiology’s Anticoagulation Clinic, Don made his interest known and was rewarded with the position.

Having seen it all from every facet, so to speak, certainly comes in handy to Don as he cares for patients like my pal Heather.  Asked what some of his favorite parts of volunteering and working at Eisenhower are, Don mentions “the bright, dedicated, hardworking, and caring people working at the clinic.  They are true heroes!”  Of course, the patients themselves are a highlight.  “Being able to help them—because I am them—and seeing the impact I have sharing my experiences and successes is wonderful,” says Don.  “Plus, there’s never a dull moment!  And I know that the work I do matters.  I see it every day with every patient I help.”

If there’s one thing I know about Don from Heather, it’s that he’s won her heart—and that of many other grateful patients at EMC!