Here they say, ‘Hey, can I help you out? You’re behind, I’m behind, let’s get caught up together.’

Ashley Cullison is a Michigan girl. Or she thought she was.

Ashley graduated from nursing school there and got her first job as an R.N. at a hospital in Grand Rapids. Ashley loves her family and her part of the country, but something was pulling at her. A yearning to see more.

“There’s so much more to this country that I had never seen,” she says, leaning in with enthusiasm. “For some reason I felt like the PNW was calling my name. So I looked into travel nursing. I liked the opportunities it presented so I talked to Travel Nurse Across America. I interviewed them: How are you going to help me? I mean, I was going to completely uproot my life.

“I decided to give it a shot.”

Her first call? Virginia Mason Memorial Hospital in fall 2016. Then it was Modesto, Calif., for three months. In April 2017 Ashley was back here. By this time “here” was really starting to feel like home. “I had really good connections at work and from church here,” Ashley says. Her contract was extended three times, but she finally had to leave or risk losing her traveler status. “I then went to Sacramento, but while I was there I decided I wanted to give Yakima more than chunks of my time.

On May 7, 2018, Ashley Cullison joined the team at Virginia Mason Memorial full time. Until she moves into her townhome, Ashley is staying with nurse Tiffini Gunkel, her husband Brad (a VMM network analyst) and their family. The Gunkels provided a home for Ashley last year, too.

“I feel very blessed,” she says. “While I was in Sacramento my grandfather passed away in Michigan. When that happened I had more co-workers from Memorial text or call me to see if I was OK then from anyplace else I worked.

“Coming back it’s been fun to explore the full spectrum of Memorial’s float pool. I think being a traveler made me well-suited for this.

“The day that I got here my relationship with management in the float pool has been great. I felt very welcomed. For Kim (Krapf) to extend the job offer to me, it means a lot that they thought of me what I thought of them.

“I worked both day and night shifts here as a traveler, and in so many departments. But no matter where I get sent here I feel like I have friends. I understand that nursing has stressful days anywhere. But the nursing culture here is so different than what I experience at the other places. Here they say, ‘Hey, can I help you out? You’re behind, I’m behind, let’s get caught up together.’

“I’ve wanted to be a nurse since I was 3 years old. Yakima sucked me in.”

Classes and Events This Week

Events for July 8 – 14
Sun
Jul 8
AutoSpa Community FundraiserMay 1 – Aug. 31
From May 1 – September 1, AutoSpa of Central Washington is hosting a fundraiser where $2.00 from every customer that uses the fundraising code 2701 when purchasing a car wash is donated to Children’s…
Dairy Queen’s CampaignJune 1 – Aug. 2
Dairy Queen restaurants are raising funds and awareness for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals through a coupon balloon campaign where customers can purchase a CMN coupon balloon where $1, $3 or $5…
1:00 pm Childbirth Education -2-Day class, (7/1 & 7/8)
Memorial Education Center
Ends @
5:00
This Childbirth Education class will cover what to expect during late pregnancy, labor delivery and postpartum.  You’ll learn valuable relaxation and breathing techniques and comfort measures as well…
Mon
Jul 9
AutoSpa Community FundraiserMay 1 – Aug. 31
From May 1 – September 1, AutoSpa of Central Washington is hosting a fundraiser where $2.00 from every customer that uses the fundraising code 2701 when purchasing a car wash is donated to Children’s…
Dairy Queen’s CampaignJune 1 – Aug. 2
Dairy Queen restaurants are raising funds and awareness for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals through a coupon balloon campaign where customers can purchase a CMN coupon balloon where $1, $3 or $5…
8:30 am Safe Sitter
Children’s Village
Ends @
3:30
Overview
The Safe Sitter course is a one-day class designed for boys and girls, ages 11 to 13.  While in this course, participants will learn safe and nurturing childcare techniques, behavior manageme…
1:00 pm Diabetes Prevention Alumni Group
Memorial’s Education Center
2506 West Nob Hill Blvd.
Yakima
Ends @
2:00
Group meets the 2nd Monday of every month to discuss a variety of health topics.

No registration necessary except for the grocery store tour.

Please call 509-249-5317 to register.

January — The…

5:00 pm Apoyo para el Cancer -Hombres y Las mujeres
Wellness House
Ends @
6:00
Apoyo para el Cancer

  • 1st Martes, Las Mujeres
  • 2nd Martes, Hombres y Mujeres
5:30 pm Gathering at Powerhouse*
The Powerhouse Grill
A time of companionship and support. This group meets monthly for dinner at the Powerhouse Grill. There is no book, no program, and no expectation other than that you have an opportunity to enjoy a me…
6:00 pm Pre-natal Yoga
Memorial Education Center
Ends @
7:00
Pre-natal Yoga helps decrease tension, improve flexibility and strength, prepare for the birthing process, and cultivate a connection between mother and child. No Yoga experience necessary!  If you ar…
Tue
Jul 10
AutoSpa Community FundraiserMay 1 – Aug. 31
From May 1 – September 1, AutoSpa of Central Washington is hosting a fundraiser where $2.00 from every customer that uses the fundraising code 2701 when purchasing a car wash is donated to Children’s…
Dairy Queen’s CampaignJune 1 – Aug. 2
Dairy Queen restaurants are raising funds and awareness for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals through a coupon balloon campaign where customers can purchase a CMN coupon balloon where $1, $3 or $5…
10:00 am Cancelled through Winter: Memorial walking group -Fall hours
Kissel Park
Ends @
11:00
Welcome to the Memorial walking group.  Our goal is to provide a weekly opportunity for physical activity and socialization. The walking session will be supervised by a certified trainer from Memorial…
12:00 pm North Star Knitters
North Star Lodge
Ends @
2:00
Cast on to this active, fun-loving group of knitters (many survivors) and learn to knit, crochet and teach others. All the yarn is provided and the laughs are free. Ask your oncologist or nurse about…
Grief Recovery Workshop
Cottage in the Meadow
Ends @
1:00
This 8-week course is centered in personal discovery and homework-style exercises designed to help you focus on grief recovery.
12:15 pm Gentle Chair Exercise
Henry Beauchamp Community Center
Ends @
1:15
Gentle Chair Fitness Ends @
1:15
Gentle Chair Fitness

Designed for people with limited mobility and seniors. Stretch and tone muscles without strain.

2:00 pm Prevent T2 for Diabetes Prevention Program Alumni
Lakeview
Ends @
3:00
Are you missing the support of a weekly meeting?  Struggling to stay on track with your goals?  Join us!  We are now offering PreventT2, building on lessons learned from the original DPP classes and i…
3:00 pm Look Good-Feel Better
Wellness House
Ends @
5:00
This step-by-step makeover learning session is led by cosmetology professionals using products donated by the cosmetic industry. Each two-hour, hands-on-workshop includes a 12-step skin care, makeup l…
6:00 pm Grief Recovery Workshop
Cottage in the Meadow
Ends @
7:00
This 8-week course is centered in personal discovery and homework-style exercises designed to help you focus in grief recovery.
Wed
Jul 11
AutoSpa Community FundraiserMay 1 – Aug. 31
From May 1 – September 1, AutoSpa of Central Washington is hosting a fundraiser where $2.00 from every customer that uses the fundraising code 2701 when purchasing a car wash is donated to Children’s…
Dairy Queen’s CampaignJune 1 – Aug. 2
Dairy Queen restaurants are raising funds and awareness for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals through a coupon balloon campaign where customers can purchase a CMN coupon balloon where $1, $3 or $5…
11:00 am Living Alone support group
Cottage in the Meadow
Ends @
12:00
One of the greatest challenges of learning how to cope with the loss of a spouse, partner, or significant other is getting acquainted with living on your own. This support group provides connection to…
12:00 pm Breastfeeding Support
Memorial Maternal Health
Ends @
1:30
Do you ever ask?
“Will I be able to breastfeed after my baby is born”?
“Am I doing this right?”
“Is this supposed to hurt like this?”
“Is my baby getting enough to eat?”
You are not alone. All…
Cancer support for Men, Women and families
Wellness House
Ends @
1:00
From the first day of cancer diagnosis and for the rest of your life- you are a survivor!  Find hope, encouragement and connection with other survivors.
1:00 pm Better Breathers Club
Memorial Cardiac Rehabilitation
Ends @
2:30
Better Breathers CLub
A support group for anyone with COPD. Families welcome.

Second Wednesday of each month 1-2:30 pm in Memorial’s Center for Rehab & Wellness (406 S. 30th Ave-Upstairs from the Heart…

5:30 pm Breast Cancer Support Group
‘Ohana Mammography Center
Ends @
6:30
Betsy Medrano,  R.N, Certified Nurse Navigator, and breast health expert will lead discussion on a variety of topics related to breast cancer. Support group is open to all women with breast cancer, fr…
Thu
Jul 12
AutoSpa Community FundraiserMay 1 – Aug. 31
From May 1 – September 1, AutoSpa of Central Washington is hosting a fundraiser where $2.00 from every customer that uses the fundraising code 2701 when purchasing a car wash is donated to Children’s…
Dairy Queen’s CampaignJune 1 – Aug. 2
Dairy Queen restaurants are raising funds and awareness for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals through a coupon balloon campaign where customers can purchase a CMN coupon balloon where $1, $3 or $5…
9:00 am Diabetes Wellness –Session 1 of 4 (Classes at 9am)
Memorial Cornerstone Medicine -Diabetes Education Classroom
Ends @
11:30
—THOSE REGISTERED WILL ATTEND $ CLASSES OVER A 3 MONTH PERIOD —

This Diabetes Wellness program is for patients who are newly diagnosed with diabetes, or those seeking to gain additional education…

11:00 am Family & Friends Cancer education/support
Wellness House
Ends @
12:00
Education, support and resources for men and women who are facing cancer as well as their support network.  2nd and 4th Tuesdays Monthly
12:15 pm Gentle Chair Fitness Ends @
1:15
Gentle Chair Fitness

Designed for people with limited mobility and seniors. Stretch and tone muscles without strain.

Zumba
Studio Z
Ends @
1:15
Offered at no charge.
Ages 10 and up.
6:30 pm Childbirth Education -4 wk series (6/28, 7/12, 19, 26)
Memorial Education Center
Ends @
8:30
This Childbirth Education class will cover what to expect during late pregnancy, labor delivery and postpartum.  You’ll learn valuable relaxation and breathing techniques and comfort measures as well…
Fri
Jul 13
AutoSpa Community FundraiserMay 1 – Aug. 31
From May 1 – September 1, AutoSpa of Central Washington is hosting a fundraiser where $2.00 from every customer that uses the fundraising code 2701 when purchasing a car wash is donated to Children’s…
Dairy Queen’s CampaignJune 1 – Aug. 2
Dairy Queen restaurants are raising funds and awareness for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals through a coupon balloon campaign where customers can purchase a CMN coupon balloon where $1, $3 or $5…
2:30 pm Solo para mamografías—rayos X de senos.
‘Ohana Mammography Center
Ends @
4:30
Cuide de lo que verdaderamente es importante – su Salud.

¿No tiene cobertura médica?
‘Ohana tiene información de programas que ayudan a cubrir el costo de este importante examen.
Llame para más…

Walk-in Clinic for Screening Mammograms
‘Ohana Mammography Center
Ends @
5:30
`Ohana, Memorials Mammography center, offers a walk-in clinic for screening mammograms, Fridays, 2:30–5:30 p.m No appointment is necessary and interpreters are available. The name of the doctor receiv…
Sat
Jul 14
AutoSpa Community FundraiserMay 1 – Aug. 31
From May 1 – September 1, AutoSpa of Central Washington is hosting a fundraiser where $2.00 from every customer that uses the fundraising code 2701 when purchasing a car wash is donated to Children’s…
Dairy Queen’s CampaignJune 1 – Aug. 2
Dairy Queen restaurants are raising funds and awareness for Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals through a coupon balloon campaign where customers can purchase a CMN coupon balloon where $1, $3 or $5…

Tip: Click  to add an event to your Yahoo!, Microsoft Outlook, MSN Hotmail, Apple iCal, or Google calendar.

Upcoming Events for July 15 – 21
Sun Jul 15 AutoSpa Community FundraiserMay 1 – Aug. 31
Dairy Queen’s CampaignJune 1 – Aug. 2
Mon Jul 16 8:30 am Safe Sitter (Children’s Village)
6:00 pm Pre-natal Yoga (Memorial Education Center)
Tue Jul 17 10:00 am Cancelled through Winter: Memorial walking group -Fall hours (Kissel Park)
12:00 pm North Star Knitters (North Star Lodge)
Grief Recovery Workshop (Cottage in the Meadow)
12:15 pm Gentle Chair Exercise (Henry Beauchamp Community Center)
Gentle Chair Fitness
2:00 pm Prevent T2 for Diabetes Prevention Program Alumni (Lakeview)
6:00 pm Grief Recovery Workshop (Cottage in the Meadow)
Wed Jul 18 11:00 am Healing Hearts -Cardiac support group (Memorial Cardiac Rehabilitation)
12:00 pm Breastfeeding Support (Memorial Maternal Health)
5:30 pm Grupo de Apoyo de Padre a Padre en Español (Children’s Village)
6:30 pm Successful Breastfeeding (Memorial Education Center)
Thu Jul 19 12:00 pm Cancer support -Women supporting women (Wellness House)
Women Supporting Women Through Cancer (Wellness House)
12:15 pm Gentle Chair Fitness
Zumba (Studio Z)
5:30 pm Autism Support Group- 5:30-7:00 pm / Autism 200 Series (televised from Seattle Childrens)- 7-8:30 pm (Children’s Village)
6:30 pm Childbirth Education -4 wk series (6/28, 7/12, 19, 26) (Memorial Education Center)
Fri Jul 20 9:00 am Parent to Parent Crafting Group (Children’s Village)
2:30 pm Solo para mamografías—rayos X de senos. (‘Ohana Mammography Center)
Walk-in Clinic for Screening Mammograms (‘Ohana Mammography Center)
Sat Jul 21 9:00 am Childbirth Education -1 day class, Saturday (Location varies: specifics shared with registration)

View the entire calendar online

 

“I’ve had one bad melanoma and three other lesser melanomas over the years,”

Sonny and Linda Salsbury are of a certain age. The age before anybody knew just how harmful the sun’s rays could be.

“We’re both from L.A.,” Sonny says. “We went to the beach constantly and covered ourselves with baby oil and got as dark as we could.

“And, you know what? When I told my dermatologist that he said that he did the same thing!”

If only we had known then what we know now.

“I’ve had one bad melanoma and three other lesser melanomas over the years,” says Sonny, who’s 80. “I’ve also had basal cell and squamous cell (carcinoma).”

After years of back-and-forth between Southern California and Yakima, Sonny, a youth minister, and Linda recently returned to Yakima for good. “We’re back here in our house, a big, old Victorian built in 1904, and it’s our favorite house of all the places we’ve ever lived.”

Sonny figures he has thousands of kids, two of their own and the rest from his years of ministering to young people, some of those years spent at Yakima’s First Presbyterian Church. “Some of my kids even showed up (from both Yakima and California) to help us settle back into our home!”

And he is grateful. Not just for the help settling in, but for the care he’s gotten from Dr. Naseer Ahmad and the staff at Virginia Mason Memorial’s North Star Lodge. “Doctors found a small spot on my liver in fall 2017, and now I get an infusion of Keytruda every three weeks. It’s been great: I’ve had no side effects. In fact I’m going down to Emerald Cove Day Camp in San Juan Capistrano this summer to be the camp granddaddy: lead singing, take the kids on hikes, tell them stories.”

Washington ranks among the top 10 states for the highest rates of new cases of melanoma of the skin. So, what would Sonny like all of his kids and the rest of us to know about the sun and its effects on skin?

“Wear that sunscreen,” he says. “Get out of the tanning beds. And if you’ve ever had skin cancer, don’t miss your checkups: Get your moles checked.”

And finally, he says quietly, “It’s more important to be alive and be the color God made you.”

 

Cured of Hep C

Angel Perez and Macayla Smith work out at the gym. They try to eat a low-carb diet. They have two cars, a nice apartment and enjoy spending their weekends with the kids.

Just another typical Yakima Valley family, right? Not even close.

“It’s so awesome getting up and not chasing the dragon,” says Angel.

The dragon was heroin.

“We were very active in the drug scene,” Angel says. “I was in gangs. I’ve been in prison twice. Macayla and I were on the streets; We were homeless. We used everything from heroin to methamphetamines to alcohol, but heroin was our drug of choice.”

That was almost three years ago, when the couple began their long journey to get off the streets and out of addiction.

“We’d hit rock bottom; I was done,” Angel says. “Ever since they took my little boy it kinda woke me up and opened my eyes. I told Macayla, ‘No, the streets ain’t nothing for us. Our son is our little angel, and we’re going to get him back.”

Angel and Macayla got themselves into out-patient treatment; they go to classes, see counselors. As Angel says, “Whatever it takes, we did it and we did it as a couple. We set some goals and . . .”

“We met them one by one,” says Macayla, finishing Angel’s sentence, holding his hand.

One of those goals included dealing with Hepatitis C. Angel long knew he had Hep C, but “I was kinda scared, and when you’re using you don’t care.”

His doctor referred him to Virginia Mason Memorial’s Liver Clinic, and now the couple can add being Hep C free to their list of accomplishments.

“In the beginning it was hard,” says Macayla of their transformation from homelessness and addiction to being the parents of three with playdates and jobs.

How did they do it? “Well, we fell in love, that’s for sure!” she says, laughing. “We’ve had each other’s backs ever since.”

“We go to Planet Fitness,” says Angel. “I go five days a week. It gets your body back. I feel so good to be getting my health back, you know what I mean? Now, instead of smoking, I get ready for the gym.

“We did an awesome thing. We showed them. We tell other people, you got this, you can do this, too. We got rid of our old friends, but whenever they see us they say ‘Good job!’ ”

Improving your relationship with food…

Are you struggling with healthy eating? Do you find that you are an emotional eater?

Virginia Mason Memorial will be offering a night with licensed expert on intuitive eating. You’ll learn ways to create a healthy relationship with food and with yourself.

Chelsea Buffum, MS, LMHC works with people who want to improve their relationship with food and their bodies.

Space is limited. Please call to register at 509-249-5317. Cost is $5.

May 22, 2018
6-8pm
Memorial’s Education Center, 2506 West Nob Hill Blvd.

National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day: Saturday, April 28

Properly dispose of old medications in Yakima
on National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day: Saturday, April 28

YAKIMA – There often is confusion about whether old or unused medications should be thrown out in the trash, put down the sink, etc.  But on National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, Saturday, April 28, anyone with expired or unused medications is invited to bring them to Memorial Cornerstone Medicine, 4003 Creekside Loop, so they can be properly discarded.

The medication take-back program, sponsored locally by Virginia Mason Memorial and the Yakima Police Department, is part of a national initiative to provide a venue for safe disposal of unneeded medications. This effort prevents prescription drugs from entering the local water supplies and landfills.

The drug take-back event will be held from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the parking lot at Cornerstone.

For more information on National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day go to: https://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_disposal/takeback/index.html

 

Virginia Mason Memorial recognized as among most sustainable health care facilities in the country with four awards

Virginia Mason Memorial recognized as among most sustainable health care facilities in the country with four awards

Practice Greenhealth Emerald Award honors Virginia Mason Memorial for its superior sustainability programs

(YAKIMA, WA) – In recognition for outstanding accomplishments in sustainability, Virginia Mason Memorial has received four awards this year from Practice Greenhealth, the nation’s leading organization dedicated to environmental sustainability in health care. The awards are given each year to honor environmental achievements in the health care sector.

The Greenhealth Emerald Award is presented to hospitals that demonstrate superior sustainability programs. The award recognizes Virginia Mason Memorial’s ongoing commitment to improving its environmental performance and maintaining a top standard of excellence in sustainability.

The Circles of Excellence Award, given to Virginia Mason Memorial for Healthy Food in Health Care, honors hospitals for outstanding performance in one specific area, such as reducing use of toxic chemicals or sourcing food sustainably. These awards highlight hospitals that are driving innovation in sustainability. There can be up to 10 designees selected for each Circle of Excellence category.

The Healthy Food category award highlights leaders in sustainable food services, including meat and sugar-sweetened beverage reduction, healthier meat procurement, local sourcing, food waste prevention and management. Top hospitals have written policies and an educational strategy that addresses the food system as a critical component in an overall sustainability plan.

The Greening the Operating Room Recognition Award acknowledges hospital sustainability programs that drive environmental stewardship within the surgical suite.
The Making Medicine Mercury-Free Award, new for Virginia Mason Memorial this year, is
given to health-care facilities that have virtually eliminated mercury and have policies in place to prevent it from re-entering the facility. Mercury is one of the most hazardous chemicals and is associated with many health risks.

“We are proud to be named one of the top 10 hospitals in the country for our work toward providing healthy food for our patients, employees and visitors. We will continue to make sustainability a top priority everywhere we can, from eliminating mercury from our facilities to greening our operating rooms and more,” said CEO Russ Myers.

“We embarked on our environmental sustainability journey four years ago, and I’m really proud of our staff and leadership,” said Kate Gottlieb, Sustainability Program coordinator. “I can’t wait to see how our work impacts Yakima and the health of our community.”

Virginia Mason Memorial strives to serve food to patients, visitors and staff that is local, organic and sustainable whenever possible. Memorial buys meat and marine-certified seafood that are free of antibiotics and hormones when possible. In the past three years, Virginia Mason Memorial’s garden, on the hospital campus, has provided 12,000 pounds of produce that was used in the cafeteria and served to patients.

In addition, Virginia Mason Memorial collected over 250 tons of recycling on the hospital’s main campus in 2017. Energy use was reduced 3.2 percent.

In 2017, the Memorial OR diverted 16,498 pounds of medical waste from landfills  through reduction and reprocessing devices with Stryker’s Sustainability Solutions. Also, a sock recycling program, in which lightly used socks are washed and donated to the Union Gospel Mission, was also started.

The awards will be presented at the Practice Greenhealth Environmental Excellence Awards Gala on May 9 in San Diego at the CleanMed Conference & Exhibition.

For more about sustainability efforts at Virginia Mason Memorial go to https://www.yakimamemorial.org/sustainability.asp.

 

About Virginia Mason Memorial

Part of the Virginia Mason Health System, Virginia Mason Memorial is a 226-bed, acute-care, nonprofit, community hospital serving Central Washington’s Yakima Valley. Virginia Mason Memorial includes primary care practices and specialty care services including high-quality cardiac care; cancer care through North Star Lodge; breast health at `Ohana Mammography Center; acute hospice and respite care at Cottage in the Meadow, winner of the Circle of Life Award from the American Hospital Association for innovative palliative and end-of-life care; pain management at Water’s Edge; an advanced NICU unit, the only place in Central Washington that offers specialty care for at-risk infants; advanced services for children with special health care needs at Children’s Village; and The Memorial Foundation, a separate 501c(3) organization that raises funds for innovative health care programs in the Yakima Valley.

 

 

About Practice Greenhealth

Practice Greenhealth is the nation’s leading health care community dedicated to transforming health care worldwide so that it reduces its environmental footprint, becomes a community anchor for sustainability and a leader in the global movement for environmental health and justice. To learn more about Practice Greenhealth visit www.practicegreenhealth.org.

 

 

 

# # #

 

 

“David knew something was horribly wrong. His daughter called 911”

David Jones is an area manager for Goodwill, and sometimes his job requires that he drive to Tacoma for meetings. One Sunday, about four years ago, he did just that, heading out from his home in Yakima early, so he could be ready to go early Monday morning.

On the drive west, however, David didn’t feel well. “I thought it was indigestion, heartburn. And I was a little nauseous,” he says.

But David, 59, had a job to do. He attended the meeting and drove himself back to Yakima afterward. By this time, though, David was quite ill. “When I got home I was vomiting. I was white as a sheet, and I was in a cold sweat.”

David knew something was horribly wrong. His daughter called 911, but she couldn’t get through. All the circuits from her cell network provider were busy. David and his daughter began to panic.  “We could have used my phone, but we weren’t thinking,” he says. “I drove myself in. I wouldn’t even let my daughter do it. But, I have to say, if you want service in the Emergency Department, go in there clutching your chest,” he says, finding a sliver of humor in the most frightening day of his life.

The result? Three days in the hospital. Two stents (installed by Dr. Thomas McLaughlin of the Yakima Heart Center). 99 percent blockage in the main artery. David had a heart attack.

“It really changes your life,” he says quietly over a cup of coffee. “Before this I used to think, how do I get more money in my 401K? How do I get a bigger boat? And afterward I thought, when was the last time I told my wife I love her?

“It changed my whole perspective.”

David’s two daughters and a Virginia Mason Memorial nurse, who was now off-duty, stayed with David until his wife, Lori, could get to the hospital.

“The key takeaway for me was life-changing,” he says.

David, a longtime heavy smoker, immediately quit cigarettes. It was also discovered that he was prediabetic. But, he said to himself, “that’s one pill I’m not going to take.” David and Lori, in support, started attending Virginia Mason Memorial’s year-long Diabetes Prevention Program. They learned how to calculate the fat grams, and to incorporate more fruit, vegetables and yogurt into their diet.

They got hooked on the program, and then became competitive in their quest for good health.

“We didn’t start exercising right away, but then we started going to the YMCA three or four times a week, working out on the treadmill, track and with weights. I lost 35 pounds, and my wife lost over 40!

“We swear by the Diabetes Prevention Program.

“What happened to me was a gift, because I had the classic widow-maker. If you’re anybody — man, woman — and you have symptoms, go to the Emergency Department.

“I had no pain in my arm, but it felt like a cramp in my chest. The doctor asked me when the pain started, and I told him, “About two weeks into Mariners season.” Then I was out, in full cardiac arrest. We joked that those would have been my final words.

“But that was four years ago.”

Nash stands 5 feet 8 inches tall and weighed 280 pounds. He knew he was overweight, but he still didn’t think he could have a heart attack.

Nash Mazza was used to working long days jam-packed with a hefty load of stress. But this one day, Feb. 26, 2016, (he’ll never forget it) Nash felt a sharp pain in his left arm. Tightness and pain in his chest. Nash, 41 years old, was having a heart attack.

“At my age, you don’t think about that,” he said.

Fortunately, as the director of environmental services for Virginia Mason Memorial hospital, he didn’t have far to go for help. Staff called a Code Blue and, using his office chair as an ambulance, wheeled him directly from his office into the Emergency Department.

Nash made it. However, doctors discovered he was suffering from severe blockage in his coronary arteries. On March 3 he had open-heart surgery, a quintuple bypass.

Nash got the message. “If I had this at home, I probably would have died,” he says.

Then he made a plan. Almost 12 months later he’d lost 70 pounds and became that guy who begins his days with an hour of cardio, heads to the gym after work and plans healthy menus for every meal.

Nash’s cardiologist, Dr. Dave Krueger of the Yakima Heart Center, is passionate about drilling home his message of a healthy lifestyle as the best way to ward off heart health issues. “I like preventing sudden death,” he says.

Major cardiovascular diseases – heart disease and stroke – are the leading cause of death in Yakima County and throughout the United States. High cholesterol, obesity and high blood pressure are the three leading factors.

“We exercise less than we think. We eat more than we think,” says Krueger. “But you really do need to change your life. That means 45 minutes of exercise every day, eating a healthy diet – and absolutely no smoking. I don’t care if you’re 18 or 80! If you exercise every day you’ll feel better, live longer and happier, and, you’ll be more aware of how you feel.”

Of the 1,000 people who die suddenly in America of cardiovascular disease each day, half had warning signs. Nash had a big one in autumn 2015. He went to get a new prescription for his glasses and the exam showed eye trauma. “Hardening of the arteries,” says Krueger. “The back of your eye has small arteries; you can actually see the hardening.”

Mazza knew he should go see his doctor. But he was busy. He had a staff of 90 and hardly enough time to eat. When he did, it was fast food and Coke Cola. He also knew about his family history: A grandmother and two uncles died of heart attacks. His birth mother has diabetes.

Nash stands 5 feet 8 inches tall and weighed 280 pounds. He knew he was overweight, but he still didn’t think he could have a heart attack. But the signs were there. The day before, Nash woke up with a heartburn kind of feeling. The day it happened, he felt “weird.”

But that’s all behind him now, and Nash’s cardiologist, Dr. Krueger, would like everyone to know that even with inherited traits for heart disease, “You can change your life. A healthy lifestyle is the best medicine.”