Stories from the Heart

 Chris Catania

55 years old
President, Subsurface Technologies, Inc.

My arrival at St. Luke’s Cornwall Hospital’s emergency room marked the moment when everything changed. It’s very emotional for me and it remains one of the most significant days of my life.

I knew something was terribly wrong. All I could think about in that moment was I needed to talk to my three sons and my fiancé. I wanted to say goodbye.

Chris Catania never thought the chest pressure, sweating and left-arm numbness was a heart attack. He had just returned to his Newburgh office after dropping his fiancé off at the airport.

“I never would have thought I’d be a candidate for a heart attack,” he said. “I didn’t believe in going to the doctor because I never got sick. I felt strong and was not overweight at all.”


Still, he didn’t feel right and co-workers remarked at how pale he looked. After further conversation, his staff members drove him directly to the Kaplan Family Center for Emergency Medicine in Newburgh. “Within seconds I was in the emergency room where an EKG was performed, confirming I was having a heart attack,” he said.

Cardiologists at the SLCH Center for Cardiac Care live and maintain private practices in the community. Dr. Zubair Jafar, a cardiologist with The Heart Center, lives in New Windsor and was on call that day. As the on-call physician, Dr. Jafar received a message on his cell phone alerting him of Chris’ arrival and the need for interventional cardiac care.

“It seemed only minutes before the cardiac team assembled. It was as if they came from thin air,” Chris said.

Chris resisted the procedure initially, wanting to first speak with his three sons and fiancé who was 30,000 feet in the air. That’s when Margaret Deyo-Allers, Director of the Center for Cardiac Care, took over. She put her hands on both sides of his head, looked into his eyes and said, “We don’t have time. We need to do this now.”

Dr. Jafar inserted two stents and performed emergency angioplasty, all within 66 minutes of Chris’ arrival – nearly 30 minutes better than state and national benchmarks. As a result, his heart suffered no damage.

In recovery, Dr. Jafar was first to greet him. “His bedside manner was fantastic,”
Chris said.

I’ve cut back on red meat, made positive changes to my diet and no longer smoke. Through the help of the SLCH Cardiac Rehabilitation Center I’ve learned how to stay fit, eat healthier and take better care of myself.

I see the whole world differently now. I appreciate life so much. You need to do everything you can with your children and family because tomorrow could be your last day.