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Global Patient Services Spring 2011

Patient Experience Q&A

A Panama City native travels to Cleveland Clinic for open heart surgery

Global Patient Services offers support and planning assistance to families traveling from other countries to Cleveland Clinic for care. Victor Berrio, 36, and his wife Ana Castrellon, came to Cleveland Clinic from Panama for Berrio’s open heart surgery. Here, Berrio talks about his experience.

How did you come to know of Cleveland Clinic?

We learned of the Clinic when we decided to explore options in the United States for my husband’s heart surgery. Of course, we wanted him to be seen at the best hospital in Cardiology, and Cleveland Clinic always came up as Number One.

Why did you choose Cleveland Clinic for your surgery?

We looked at three hospitals as options for the surgery, but decided on Cleveland Clinic because it’s the best, and because of the fast and efficient answers we received from the hospital through Global Patient Services from the first moment of contact.

Were you worried about anything? What were your concerns, and how did you overcome them?

Anyone confronting the possibility of needing open heart surgery surely has many concerns. For us, our main worries were: finding the best option for the surgery, the possible risks involved, the recuperation, and costs related to the surgery and travel. We did a lot of research on valve replacement procedures, the best hospitals for this type of surgery, and all things related. Little by little, thanks to this research and to the information provided by Cleveland Clinic, our fears began to fade away. Once we officially chose Cleveland Clinic, many of our concerns were resolved because of all the information they provided us.

Could you describe your experience at Cleveland Clinic? What were your impressions upon arrival and throughout your stay?

Our experience at Cleveland Clinic was excellent. Even before we arrived, we had a positive impression thanks to the kind and efficient attention of Maya Edwards, our contact in Global Patient Services, whose valuable support allowed us to feel well informed and prepared when we left our country.

Once we arrived, our impressions continued to be positive. We stayed at the Intercontinental Hotel and Conference Center, which was a good choice due to the location and easy access to the hospital. The facility and attention we received in each area was superb. The design and environment of the Cardiology building make you forget that you are actually in a hospital. We were impressed with the ease and flow of everything, and thought it was marvelous that the focus was always on the wellbeing of the patient and their family. We felt very well taken care of at all times.

The attention we received was always kind and warm. We were impressed by the amount of information we were offered on our stay, the procedure, the recuperation and all things related. We always could count on the valuable support and kind attention of our interpreter, Jose Ruiz, who also became our guide and friend during our stay.

In spite of how difficult it is to face an open heart surgery, our experience was easier to bear due to the excellent attention and consideration of the family during patient recuperation and through the whole process. We are very satisfied and grateful for the care and attention of Dr. Conrad Simpfendorfer. His kindness, clarity and professionalism were calming and gave us the confidence we needed to choose to proceed with surgery. We will always be grateful to Dr. Gonzalo Gonzalez-Stawinski, whose experience and expertise made a successful surgery possible.

We are very happy we chose Cleveland Clinic. It was a great experience and will definitely be our first choice for medical care in the United States. We are eternally grateful to Cleveland Clinic and to everyone who had a hand in Victor’s care. Thanks to them, Victor feels like new.

Visit us online to learn the latest information about heart & vascular disorders, treatments, tests and prevention from the No. 1-ranked heart program in the United States.

Staff Spotlight

Providing a ‘Family’ Away From Home

International Patient Services advocates guide patients who travel from all over the world through the process of traveling to Cleveland Clinic and receiving care

When families travel from all over the world to Cleveland Clinic for health care, coordinators like Maya Edwards in International Patient Services are like family away from home.

“We are here to offer patients and their families support because traveling here can be overwhelming,” acknowledges Edwards, who truly gets to know patients and their families before they even arrive at Cleveland Clinic. “We may be working with the family for several months, fielding their questions, making arrangements and setting them up with an interpreter.” By the time they arrive in Cleveland, the meeting is like a homecoming.

That’s the feeling Edwards experienced while working with the patient Victor Berrio and his wife Ana Castrellon from Panama City, Panama. The family was apprehensive about travel, and concerned that they were “bugging” Edwards with too many questions. She assured them that it was her job to make the process seamless and comfortable.

Edwards helped the family find accommodations and tutored the family on everything from Cleveland weather to activities to occupy the family while Victor recuperated from surgery. “The family as grateful for the support—I felt like I was really helping someone that I had gotten to know,” Edwards says.

Edwards joined Cleveland Clinic International Patient Services in 2010, after moving home from Seville, Spain, where she lived for six years. A Cleveland native and John Carroll University graduate, Edwards says what makes her job special is the opportunity to use her language skills as an interpreter and make a difference for so many families traveling from afar for medical services at Cleveland Clinic.

“We bond with all of the patients and their families,” she says. “Our department works together to make sure we’re giving them the best service possible.”

Free Assessment

Know Your Risk for a Stroke

According to the World Health Organization, 15 million people suffer stroke worldwide each year. Many factors increase the risk for stroke. Some factors can be controlled while others can not. Take our free stroke risk assessment to know your risk of having a stroke in the next 10 years. Knowing your risk is the first step in stroke prevention.

U.S.News & World Report

Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital Ranked Among Nation’s Best Pediatric Hospitals by U.S.News & World Report

Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital has been recognized as one of the top pediatric hospitals in the country in U.S.News & World Report’s 2011-12 edition of “Best Children’s Hospitals.” The hospital’s Neurology & Neurosurgery program earned the highest ranking in Ohio for the fourth consecutive year, ranking No. 7 nationally. Overall, Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital earned national rankings in all 10 specialties.

Specialties Rankings
Neurology & Neurosurgery 7th (Best in Ohio)
Gastroenterology 18th (Best in northern Ohio)
Cancer 21st (Best in northern Ohio)
Cardiology & Heart Surgery 28th (Best in northern Ohio)
Urology 45th (Best in northern Ohio)
Diabetes & Endocrinology 16th
Pulmonology 22nd
Orthopedics 26th
Neonatology 38th
Nephrology 40th

“These rankings are a reflection of our unfaltering dedication to providing the highest quality pediatric care and placing the safety of children first,” said Ricardo Rodriguez, MD, Interim Chair of Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital. “In the next year we will continue expanding and integrating our subspecialty programs across the Cleveland Clinic health system to offer individualized care to children facing the most complex pediatric conditions.”

In the past five years, Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital has added more than 156 physicians. A staff of 350 full-time pediatricians and sub-specialists sees more than 500,000 pediatric visits each year and provides hospital care for an average of 200 children each day.

In 2010, Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital expanded its highly regarded pediatric and congenital heart and heart surgery programs by adding four pediatric cardiologists and a cardiothoracic surgeon. During the past 12 months, the Children’s Hospital has added a bone marrow transplant program, expanded the pediatric intensive care unit and opened a new ward for transplant patients and children with cancer.

According to U.S.News, the 2011-12 edition of Best Children’s Hospitals recognizes the top 50 children’s hospitals in 10 medical specialties, based on clinical and operational data about each hospital’s survival rates, nurse staffing, sub-specialist availability, and other information that may be difficult for parents or caregivers to find on their own.

In addition to the data, pediatric specialists were asked to recommend the hospitals they consider best for children with challenging problems. Seventy-six hospitals are ranked in at least one specialty.

The rankings are published online – – and will be in the Best Hospitals guide published by U.S.News & World Report available in mid-August on and on newsstands Aug. 30.

About Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital

Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital is a part of the Cleveland Clinic health system and offers full medical, surgical and rehabilitative care for infants, children and adolescents. Children’s Hospital supports 126 acute care beds at Cleveland Clinic's main campus and 284 pediatric beds system wide; in addition, pediatric services are available at 10 family health centers in Northeast Ohio. A staff of 300 full-time pediatricians and sub-specialists see more than 500,000 pediatric visits each year and provide hospital care for an average of 218 children per day. Cleveland Clinic is a non-profit, multispecialty academic medical center integrating clinical care, research and education.

Chat With Us – Online Health Questions, Answered

Web chats and transcripts give you 24/7 access to health information

Wish a Cleveland Clinic physician could stop in at your home to answer your health questions and concerns? With our web chats and transcripts, the health information you’re looking for is just a click away and you can access it any time of day. Connect and participate in our live forums featuring Cleveland Clinic physicians and health educators. Or, read transcripts at your convenience. These make getting answers easy no matter your time zone.

Participate in a live chat: Visit our web chat homepage and create a user name and password. Your user name will be visible if you post questions during the chat, so be sure not to choose your real name or email address.

Ask questions: To submit a question during a web chat, type into the text box below the chat display and press enter. Or, click the ask button. Physicians will answer as many questions as possible during the chat.

Read transcripts: Click on the transcript tab at the top of the web chat page and you will find links to heart and vascular and general health information transcripts.

Access a variety of topics: Whether you want to know more about abnormal heart rhythm or you want to find out more about a prescription medication, there are dozens of topics available in the transcripts section of the site. Upcoming chats are listed on the main web chat page.

Find more information: After viewing a web chat or transcript, you may decide to contact Cleveland Clinic. On the web chat page, you can easily access the online Cleveland Clinic phone directory or request a second opinion.

Get started: Visit us online or call 800.223.2273 if you have questions.

Recipe Corner

From the latest issue of Children's Health Essentials eNews

Lemon and Fresh Herb Tabbouleh

This flavorful dish is low in fat, rich in fiber and dense in nutrients. Bulgur wheat, tomatoes and red onion are tossed with fresh parsley, basil, mint, dill and cilantro along with lemon juice and olive oil.