Comfort on Many Levels

Bruce and Scott are neighbors. They share a laugh doing yard work. They hunt pheasants together. Bruce teaches guitar to Scott’s youngest daughter. He raves about the cheesecake Scott’s wife makes. There’s a level of comfort between the two men.

That’s a good thing, considering Dr. Scott Charette is Bruce Kopp’s vascular surgeon.

“Even though we’re friends, I know Dr. Charette is a very professional, very good surgeon,” said Bruce. “I knew he was going to take good care of me.”


Consulting the Experts
Bruce enjoys an active lifestyle, running, swimming and biking to stay fit. When he started feeling cramping and a tingling sensation in his left leg, he casually mentioned something to Dr. Charette. After learning it had gone on for a while, and knowing Bruce’s history of blood pressure and heart problems, Dr. Charette suggested Bruce make an appointment.

Born with a congenital heart defect, Bruce’s heart has only two valves. Almost seven years ago, Bruce had an aortic valve replacement at Mayo Clinic. He was then put on a regimen of blood thinners and other blood pressure medication. Then, four years ago during a routine exam, an aneurysm appeared above one of his heart valves. He traveled back to Mayo Clinic for open heart surgery.

Test results lead Dr. Charette to a blood clot in Bruce’s left calf. Bacteria from Bruce’s heart had produced the clot.

“Dr. Charette said that because of my heart condition, it needed to come out,” said Bruce. “We didn’t want any chance of infection.”

Before proceeding with surgery, Dr. Charette requested an eConsult with a vascular surgeon at Mayo Clinic. Having previously consulted on other patients, the surgeons were familiar with each other and agreed on Dr. Charette’s recommended course of treatment.

“That’s the nice thing about eConsults,” said Dr. Charette. “While I do at times still communicate with Mayo physicians by phone, eConsults and email can accomplish things more readily.”

“Complications can arise with any procedure, and that causes concern with anyone. But, when it’s someone who you see and interact with daily, it weighs heavier on your mind,” he continued. “The eConsult made me feel more comfortable, and I think also reassured Bruce and his wife of the plan.”

“I didn’t have a problem going back to Mayo, but knowing I could stay here [in Grand Forks] and have care that was second to none, was great,” said Bruce. “I liked being able to work with Dr. Charette. His level of ability is top notch.”

During the successful surgery, two mycotic aneurysms, or essentially, two blood clots, were found and removed. Bruce now has an eight-inch scar on his inner left calf. “When I asked Dr. Charette about the size of the scar, he told me, ‘Don’t worry about it. Chicks dig the scar,’” chuckled Bruce.

Staying at Home
Because he was able to stay in Grand Forks, Bruce was able to support his wife, Rachel, at Archives Coffee House, their business on the campus of the University of North Dakota. His employer, Ideal Aerosmith, also benefited as Bruce missed significantly less work.

“In order to give the level of care they do, Altru has the technology, physicians and facilities necessary,” said Bruce. “They do a good job taking care of this region. It’s comfortable walking into the building. They took care of everything I needed, and did so in a nice, friendly and attentive manner.”

“They care here more than people understand,” said Bruce.

Have you received medical care from someone you also know on a personal level? Do you feel that relationship impacted the care you received? Let us know.

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