Northwell ‘goes red’ for women’s heart health

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Yvonne Fleming (left) and Dr. Evelina Grayver during the Go Red for Women event. (Photo courtesy of Northwell Health)

It was a sea of red as hundreds of Northwell Health staff members gathered together for the annual “Go Red for Women” celebration.

In honor of American Heart Month, the Katz Institute for Women’s Health sponsored the event, featuring special guest speakers, a wellness fair, dance troupe, and a special appearance by Beats & Eats by DJ CHEF, the “only entertainer who simultaneously cooks and DJs for events worldwide!” 

First to speak was Dr. Adam Auerbach, medical director of Sandra Atlas Bass Heart Hospital. After brief introductory remarks, he emphasized the health system’s gratitude to Bass, “without whom the dream of a beautiful heart hospital would not have been possible.”

Dr. Stacey Rosen, who serves as vice president of Women’s Health, also expressed her gratitude to Bass, and then urged women to heed the warning signs of illness before it’s too late. Rosen has been on the forefront of urging women to take care for their own health, along with the needs of their families.

“We live in a time when science understands that the symptoms of heart attack are different in women,” said Rosen. “One of our missions at the Katz Women’s Hospital is to encourage women to consider themselves first. We can’t take care of our families if we’re not taking care of our own health.”

Yvonne Fleming, the first patient to undergo heart transplantation surgery at NSUH, spoke. Fleming will celebrate her first anniversary with her new heart on Feb. 19.

Recalling the night of her transplant, Fleming said that she knew she was in the best of hands.

“I remembering telling my surgeon, Dr. Brian Lima, just before what turned out to be a three-hour surgery that I promised to do my part, and all he had to do was his part,” she said. “I knew it would turn out just fine.” 

One week later, Fleming took a triumphant first walk from her hospital bed to the nurses’ station. She reported that those few steps “were the proudest moments of my life.”

These days, Fleming is back to her favorite activities—dancing, enjoying friends and family, and speaking about the power of hope.

“In just a few days, I’m going to celebrate my first anniversary with this new heart of mine,” Fleming said. “I do everything I can to honor this heart…I feel very blessed.”

It should be remembered that heart disease is the number one killer of women in the United States. But, as all three doctors pointed out during the event, 80 percent of heart disease risk is preventable.

As Grayver stated, “Build a strong relationship with your doctor and with yourself. Just remember, it’s time to take care of me.”

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