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Lee Guild

  • Author: Lee Guild
  • Date Submitted: Jul 19, 2018
  • Category: Heart & Vascular

Dr. Erik Miguel should have been home.

Actually, the emergency medicine doctor could have been working anywhere but Visalia after completing Kaweah Health Medical Center's three-year emergency medicine residency program in June of 2017.

But the Utah native decided to remain at Kaweah Health and make Visalia his home. This put him in the right spot at the right time to help save the life of a stranger having a heart attack outside the hospital more than an hour after Dr. Miguel’s night shift ended on Nov. 20, 2017.

"That's why I went into this, to help people, even when I'm not working," Dr. Miguel said.

While walking to his car in the physicians' parking lot on the corner of West and Willow streets, Dr. Miguel encountered a man in obvious distress who was searching for the Emergency Department, located on the other side of the hospital.

The man, 67-year-old Visalia resident Lee Guild, was clutching his chest in pain. Lee had just completed an early-morning workout at The Lifestyle Center and was on his way to work as a controller for a freight brokerage business west of downtown Visalia. But en route, Lee realized that he needed immediate medical attention.

That is exactly what Dr. Miguel provided.

Dr. Miguel went above and beyond the call of duty and assisted the ailing man himself, despite the fact that his shift was done and his wife, a 9-year-old son and daughters ages 6 and 2 were waiting at home.

Lee said he is not sure what would have happened if he would not have crossed paths with Dr. Miguel. "The way my heart was, and how quickly things were going south, it could have been a very different outcome," he said.

Dr. Miguel began walking Lee to the ED while assessing his condition. As they walked, Dr. Miguel could tell that Lee was getting worse as he grew weaker and became sweatier.

Once they entered the hospital through the Acequia Avenue entrance, Dr. Miguel realized that Lee could not walk any farther. He flagged down a nurse, got Lee onto a gurney and whisked him into a trauma bay.

The cardiologist on duty, Dr. Aditya Verma, immediately rushed Lee to the Cath Lab and put in two stents that saved his life. Lee said he was told that he had 90-95 percent blockage in two major arteries to his heart.

Dr. Miguel said there is nothing like being able to help someone.

"That's why we do it. Any other physician would have done the same thing. We're there to help people," he said.

Days later, Dr. Miguel felt compelled to call Lee and see how he was doing. Lee was pleasantly surprised by the call, and impressed by Dr. Miguel’s display of personal compassion.

"That meant a whole lot to me. You don't normally get that from doctors,” he said. “He said he was glad things worked out because my case was the real deal."

Lee told Dr. Miguel that he was recovering and doing fine and was amazed that it only took roughly an hour and 30 minutes from the time he bumped into Dr. Miguel until the stents were put in. "As I thought about it later, it was surreal how quickly it happened," Lee said.

Dr. Miguel and Lee say they believe that it was divine intervention that Dr. Miguel was running more than an hour late that morning to update charts after a busy night.

"He told me he thinks God put us in each other's path that day, and I agree," Dr. Miguel said. "It was one of those experiences I'll never forget. Hopefully, I can help more people in the future."