Published on January 16, 2017

Heart of the matter: Convenient Care visit detects Mark's defective valve

A sore throat and an experienced nurse practitioner with a stethoscope helped save Mark Glazier' life.

Mark walked into Essentia Health' Convenient Care at the Baxter Cub Foods last May because he had a sore throat and suspected he had strep throat. He'd promised his grandsons a trip to Duluth and didn't want to disappoint them by being ill.

Esther Doele, an experienced nurse practitioner, not only gave Mark a strep test but also a physical exam. What she heard with her stethoscope raised a concern.

"She asked me, "Has anyone ever told you that you have a heart murmur?" Mark recalls.

No one had, so Esther recommended he get an echocardiogram, a diagnostic test for his heart. She also urged him to contact Jennifer Dalgarno, the physician assistant who cares for Mark at the Essentia Health-Hackensack Clinic.

Jennifer agreed with Esther and referred Mark to the Marilyn Covey Heart & Vascular Center in the Essentia Health-St. Joseph' Medical Center. Tests resulted in a prompt diagnosis: aortic valve stenosis. Mark, who is 62, had been born with a defective aortic valve that had now narrowed enough to cause the heart murmur that Esther had detected.

Mark' defective valve couldn't fully open, which obstructed blood flow from his heart to the rest of his body. Doctors recommended open-heart surgery within a year to replace it.  Mark and his wife, Jane, agreed that sooner was better so Mark had a successful surgery on July 1. Cardiac rehabilitation at the local heart center has put him well on the road to recovery.

"A lot of people were involved, but Esther saved my life," says Mark, who lives in Backus, Minn. "There is no question that Esther gave me the right direction to see my doctor. I think about the last few months and realize anything beyond a year is a gift."

Esther, who says she is humbled by the experience, has been a nurse practitioner for 11 years after working as a registered nurse for 29 years. She explains that she and her colleagues in Convenient Care see themselves as part of a patient' regular care team or a place where patients can get both care and direction to a primary care team.

"We take pride in using our experience and knowledge to treat the condition the patient is here for , to help them with an unexpected illness or injury," Esther explains. "But we're also here to advise them on their overall health and wellness."

Along with two Convenient Care locations in the Baxter and Brainerd Cub Foods, Essentia Health offers walk-in care at Urgent Care in the Baxter Clinic, 13060 Isle Drive and Emergency Care at Essentia Health-St. Joseph' Medical Center, 523 N Third Street.