Dale Ruby: A Matter of the Heart

Each year approximately 1.1 million Americans have a heart attack. For approximately 515,000, myocardial infarction means death. (National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute)

Yet only half of these deaths occur suddenly (within an hour of symptoms showing). Those at highest risk for heart disease (49% or half of Americans) have one of three risk factors: high blood pressure, high LDL cholesterol or smoking. Other issues raising the risk of heart disease are: diabetes, obesity, poor diet, physical inactivity, and excessive alcohol use. CDC Mr. Dale Ruby of the Ocala Heart Institute warns, “Early warning signs of an impending heart attack must be acted upon early.” (Right now, about 47% of sudden cardiac deaths happen outside a hospital.)

The most commonly noted sign is chest pain; other signals are:

• Upper body pain

• Discomfort in the arms, back, neck, jaw, upper stomach

• Shortness of breath

• Nausea

• Lightheadedness

• Cold sweats

To save a life, call 911 when warning signs manifest themselves.

Dale Ruby, Perfusionist

Dale Ruby, Perfusionist

Dale Ruby is a cardiac perfusionist with the Ocala Heart Institute (OHI). The Ocala Heart Network operates within seven hospitals in Florida. Mr. Ruby works at Martin Health Services--North, since the hospital opened its heart program eight years ago. His role in the operating room is to operate the heart-lung bypass machine in any procedure in which the heart is stopped. Mr. Ruby also assists with ventilation of a patient.

According to Dale Ruby, Martin North sees an average of 150 heart-related procedures yearly. --75 to 80 percent are for a bypass.

--20 to 25 percent are valve issues. The physicians’ first attempt to repair and will replace when necessary.

--3 to 4 percent are major vascular—an aneurysm, or for aortic dissections.

The Ocala Heart Institute in Stuart, Florida at the Frances Langford Heart Center of Martin Health System is rated one of the Top 50 Hospitals for Heart Care by Thomson Reuters because of extremely low risk-adjusted mortality and complication rates. This places the cardiac group in the top 1% of hospitals nationally.

New in the science of cardiac medicine are the hybrid operating rooms offered at Martin North. The advanced imaging of cardiology comes into the cardiac operating room, or cardiac surgeons will go into the catherization lab, effectually combining the two aspects of heart medicine creating one room with great imaging. By working together, cardiology and cardiac offer patients less invasive procedures. Martin Health Systems—North has offered the cardiac/cardiology hybrid operating room for more than a year.

Dale Ruby now resides in Palm City, Florida, but grew up in New Jersey. He is the son of a volunteer firefighter who received a lung injury as a result of firefighting. Firefighter safety equipment in the 1970s was not as advanced as it is today. Mr. Ruby’s father developed COPD and bad asthma from the lung injury. Several times he was resuscitated after nearly dying. Ruby states, “I saw how Dad was cared for at the hospital. I thought, ‘I would like to be able to help people in such an immediate way.’” His compassion for others became his lifelong career as a cardiac perfusionist.

Dale Ruby in China with Ocala Heart Institute

Dale Ruby in China with Ocala Heart Institute

Before coming to Martin County, Dale Ruby began traveling with the Ocala Heart Institute (OHI) to areas of the world where there is no open heart cardiac care (93%). Afterward, he joined the group and moved his residence to Palm City. In 2001 he visited a remote area of China near North Korea. He also has gone to Inner Mongolia, India and Tanzania. Tanzania is only just now developing heart surgery availability.

Dale Ruby in China

Dale Ruby in China

Ocala Heart Institute has been an established program for over 25 years. The organization is unique in that it regularly provides physicians with opportunities to participate in humanitarian work. For more than 12 years, the doctors have provided cardiac training and education for native physicians and performed heart procedures. Ocala Heart Institute also founded an orphanage in China. OHI believes in the power of prayer and medicine, working together. Once, during an earthquake, all the Chinese evacuated the surgery room, leaving only the American team of doctors with their unconscious patient. These few prayed from the 15th floor of the building they were in. OHI doctors also offer hope and prayer to patients prior to surgery, even in China.

Mr. Dale Ruby is a hometown hero, not just in the United States, but in the cities and towns he has visited to help save the lives of others.

HAVE A HERO TIP? Hometown Heroes are in every town and city. They are regular people who have made a positive difference in their community, impacting others for the better. Send your Hometown Hero tip to Kelly Jadon  kfjadon@gmail.com or find her online at kellyjadon.com.

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HH: Dr. Benita Thomas Comes To Martin Health System


Jensen Beach - Dr. Benita Thomas has found that it matters not where one resides, but the ability to overcome the diagnosis of metabolic syndrome relies more upon access to knowledge.

Metabolic Syndrome is a combination of medical disorders in the body which are a downward slide toward morbidity. Cancer and cardiovascular risk goes up for those with metabolic syndrome.

Dr. Benita Thomas

Dr. Benita Thomas

Consisting of hypertension, diabetes (type 2) and high cholesterol, the American Heart Association reports that approximately 35% of the U.S. population fits the metabolic profile.

Metabolic syndrome affects both the medically served and underserved.

Communities which are served, are those with access to primary physicians. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HRSA) states that those which are underserved have shortages of primary care providers.

Dr. Benita Thomas, a board-certified family medicine physician, formerly with the Florida Department of Health in St. Lucie County, has found that it matters not where one resides, but the ability to overcome the diagnosis of metabolic syndrome relies more upon access to knowledge.

Dr. Thomas has served the underserved of St. Lucie County, Florida since 2006. She reports that approximately 40-50% of her patients have metabolic syndrome. More importantly, they get well.

BackStory: Following in the footsteps of her paternal and maternal grandfathers, Dr. Thomas determined to be a physician after returning to her parents' native India to volunteer as a college intern at the Ramabai Mukti Mission. There she shadowed a doctor who filled many specialists’ roles—OBGYN, primary care, pediatrics, and even surgery. The Ramabai Mukti Mission was created to help orphaned girls. The bare bones facility grew, becoming a clinic and surgery center. It made a positive difference in the community.

Returning to the U.S., Thomas graduated from Rutgers and completed medical school at Ross University in Dominica, West Indies. Her rotations were in England for one year, and then New York. Following this, she completed Residency in Miami at Jackson Memorial Hospital. She began working at the Camillus Health Concern in Miami.

Camillus too focused on the underserved. Dr. Thomas even helped the homeless living under the bridges in Miami where she and her nurse went to the people.

In the world of medicine, many physicians do not wish to serve the underserved. Dr. Thomas, however, has found the work invaluable, as it has taught her much.

Unable to refer the underserved to specialists, Dr. Thomas has often been the only physician available to her patients. Her medical philosophy focuses on the whole person as many factors are a part of a patient’s current health or illness. 'What is his financial situation? How about her emotional health? What is going on in the patient’s life?' Dr. Thomas attempts to get to the root of the matter, doing as much as she can herself. For example, in the past, she has uncovered depression and anxiety as the underlying conditions when heart palpitations were exhibited.

Dr. Thomas offers her own counsel on diet and exercise, joined with a prescription for Metabolic Syndrome. And she has seen her patients who have followed recommendations come off medicine.

When Dr. Thomas arrived at the Department of Health in St. Lucie County, she found that there was a need for information and more medicinal and financial assistance. She began to research. Her findings have given life-helping information to her patients.

A few of Dr. Thomas’s findings:

Medication: Few underserved patients can afford medication. Most have no insurance. Partnership for Prescription Assistance, Rx Outreach and later $4 generic programs were available to fill this gap.

Mammograms: When a lump was detected, but the patient had no money for a mammogram, Dr. Thomas contacted the Breast Health Navigator Program. This program covers the cost for the patient. It is funded by a grant, in part by the Komen Foundation and the Pink Tie Friends.

Lupus/Osteo and Rheumatoid Arthritis: A specialist is often necessary to oversee the care of a patient with these types of immune-modulated conditions. Dr. Thomas contacts the Arthritis Foundation, which sets the patient up with a rheumatologist. The visits are free if the patient qualifies.

The list continues for those who need a CT scan, insulin, and diabetic supplies.

Photo Credit:  Kelly Jadon

Photo Credit:  Kelly Jadon

Dr. Benita Thomas will be joining the Martin Medical Group, a part of Martin Health System, beginning in October. Martin will be opening a new site for primary care at the Medical Pavilion at Treasure Coast Square in Jensen Beach, Florida. Dr. Thomas is excited to be a part of this opportunity. There will be an emphasis on "wellness," with links to such resources as a dietician, nurse case managers, diabetic educators, and a gym. Working as a team, these members will be of utmost help to Dr. Thomas and other primary care physicians in helping to manage metabolic syndrome in a cooperative way.

Dr. Benita Thomas is an exemplary physician. Her concern is always first for her patients. The time and knowledge she has provided them has saved lives and improved health.

Dr. Thomas resides in Jensen Beach, Florida. To contact Dr. Thomas about her research and programs, please email her at benitat@yahoo.com

HAVE A HERO TIP? Hometown Heroes are in every town and city. They are regular people who have made a positive difference in their community, impacting others for the better. Send your Hometown Hero tip to Kelly Jadon  kfjadon@gmail.com or find her online at kellyjadon.com.

Why Good News Matters In 2013

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