At 81 years old, Bill Hill still considers himself an athlete, 60 years after playing college basketball and baseball. “Once an athlete, always an athlete,” Bill said recently. “Exercise is just a way of life for me.”
Bill began his college career playing both basketball and baseball for the University of Kentucky. Wanting more playing time, he transferred to Kentucky Wesleyan playing basketball and baseball until he injured his knees, no longer allowing him to play basketball competitively. He finished his athletic career playing baseball, and attained his bachelor’s degree in physical education and health; his minor was in biology. He later earned a master’s degree in school administration at Indiana State University and a Ph.D. in education at SIU-Carbondale.
Bill is a man who knows his body, yet when he began experiencing tightness across his chest in 2016, Bill thought soreness was from exercising at the EIU Rec Center. He knew enough to visit his primary care doctor, Family Physician Gary Mikel, MD. They agreed to wait a few days to see if the discomfort dissipated, however, the discomfort continued. “I value Dr. Mikel’s opinion. He’s been my doctor since 2005 and in a consoling way and true to our friendship, he said ‘Bill at your age, you need to see a cardiologist to see if you have a cardiovascular problem,’” Bill said. His office made an appointment to see Prairie Heart Institute Cardiologist Michael LaMonto, DO, at Sarah Bush Lincoln.
Dr. LaMonto ordered a stress test to help determine the source of Bill’s pain. While reviewing the results, Dr. LaMonto identified an irregular heartbeat. Because an echocardiogram didn’t reveal any new information—and Dr. LaMonto was still suspicious-- he suggested that Bill have a cardiac catheterization to determine if there was something more going on. While weighing the value of the catheterization, Bill sought Dr. Mikel’s guidance, once again. Together they agreed to move forward with the catheterization. Prairie Heart Institute Interventional Cardiologist Amit Dande, MD, performed the heart cath.
The cardiac cath revealed a 30 to 40 percent blockage in the arteries around the heart, which luckily did not warrant the use of angioplasty or placement of stents. Instead, Dr. LaMonto decided to monitor Bill’s irregular heartbeat and manage it with medication and periodic echocardiogram monitoring. “Dr. LaMonto and Dr. Dande did an excellent job explaining my health condition to me and what I needed to know and do,” Bill said.
“The Heart Center staff was very caring in their approaches to my medical needs. As a longtime educator and superintendent for 26 years, Bill says “I can say without hesitancy, that I give the Heart Center staff an “A” for their care. They really made my ordeal a real great experience. I was immensely pleased that I was treated like a person as well as a patient.”
While Bill doesn’t play basketball or baseball any longer, he is an avid tennis player of more than 35 years. With a clean bill of health and no chest pains, Bill looks forward to getting back on the court.
Bill believes so strongly in the SBL Heart Center that he serves on the capital campaign committee, Life … Nothing Beats It, and contributed a major gift to the campaign. The committee has raised $1.4 million of the $2 million goal to help fund the $31 million expansion of the Heart Center, which includes adding a second cardiac catheterization lab, more exam rooms, and consolidates the rehab gym, stress testing, echocardiography, pulmonary function testing, EKG, and nuclear medicine into one area. The second floor includes 20 private patient rooms. The new addition to the southeast side of the Health Center will open in Fall 2018.
To make a donation to the capital campaign, please contact Amy Card, SBL Health Foundation, at 217 258-4177.