Until a few months ago, Ann Kulchin had been in the hospital just three times in her life — and each time she came home with a baby.
In 2015, however, Ann became one of the very first patients admitted to Prebys Cardiovascular Institute, Scripps’ new, state-of-the-art heart care center on the campus of Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla. Much to her surprise, she needed extensive heart surgery.
When Ann began feeling ill in mid-February, heart problems never even crossed her mind. She and her husband David were in Santa Barbara to celebrate their son’s birthday when she felt a bit sluggish and nauseated. When her symptoms worsened, she went to the hospital. Ann was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation or AFib, a condition in which the heart beats very rapidly and irregularly. She received medication, spent the night in the hospital, and attended her son’s party the next day.
When the Kulchins returned home to Carlsbad, Ann immediately called their Scripps cardiologist Pingfeng Du, MD. “I was so anxious to get back home and go to Scripps,” she says. “If something was wrong with me, I wanted my doctors and my hospital.”
The Kulchins have long been dedicated supporters of Scripps, and their generous donations and fundraising efforts have helped support the expansion at Scripps Memorial Hospital Encinitas, building Prebys Cardiovascular Institute, and more.
After examining Ann, Dr. Du advised her to wear a 24-hour heart monitor to observe the AFib. A few days later, she awoke in the middle of the night with a feeling of heaviness in her chest. David called 911 and paramedics took her to the new emergency department at Scripps Encinitas. She was admitted for further testing, which revealed a large aortic aneurysm and significant blockage in two heart vessels. Ann needed coronary bypass surgery and aortic aneurysm repair as soon as possible.
Several days later, Scripps cardiothoracic surgeon Richard Stahl, MD, performed open heart surgery on Ann at Prebys Cardiovascular Institute. Because it had just opened, she was the first patient on her floor.
“The institute is just a beautiful place,” she says. “We went to the groundbreaking event last year, but we were not able to attend the big grand opening. So a few days later, I got there all by myself!”
Ann and David are thankful that Scripps provides world-class heart care expertise and technology right here in San Diego. “If something happens to you, it is so reassuring to know that you don’t have to get on a plane and fly to another state to get treated,” Ann says. “We are very fortunate to have exceptional heart care here at home. I think that is why people have been so generous. Scripps is at the forefront of so many wonderful things.”
If you’re inspired by Ann’s story, get involved by supporting the extraordinary medical advances in cardiovascular care at Scripps.