Hazel Finley

61 years old
School Bus Driver, Westchester County

Hazel Finley never expected chest pain to occur on her regular, four-mile walk through her neighborhood. Like many others do, she disregarded it.

She figured that the pain resulted from heartburn, something she had eaten, or stress from her job. Hazel lit a cigarette and attempted to go about her day, but then came the voice, the one inside her head. “I got a bad feeling,” she said. “This voice simply said, ‘call a doctor.’” She contacted her cardiologist, Dr. Nirav Shah, of Hudson Valley Cardiology, who advised her to go to the Kaplan Family Center for Emergency Medicine at St. Luke’s Cornwall Hospital’s Newburgh campus.

Hazel arrived in the emergency room with chest discomfort and difficulty breathing. She was a smoker and had underlying medical conditions which led emergency room physicians to consult with Dr. Shah, who performed a cardiac catheterization at the Center for Cardiac Care.

 

Two arteries around the heart were nearly 100 percent blocked. Her doctor inserted two stents into Hazel’s right coronary artery. Stents help keep an artery open to prevent future blockages.

“I was at peace, believe it or not,” Hazel said of her thoughts at that moment. “I knew that God had put that voice inside my head and that I was in good hands.”

She returned to the emergency room a year later. A cardiac computed tomography angiography (CCTA) that provides closer view of the structures and blood vessels surrounding the heart was performed. Hazel’s blood vessels had narrowed once again and another stent was inserted.

Since that day, Hazel has lost almost 50 pounds, has increased her physical fitness and continues to manage her heart health – but struggles to kick her smoking habit.

“I’m very grateful to Dr. Shah for saving my life,” she said. “He is the most compassionate, caring doctor I’ve ever met, and I’m so glad to have that facility so close to my home.”