• Eisenhower Auxiliary’s...
    Eisenhower Medical Center Auxiliary’s annual fund-raising dinner dance is scheduled for Saturday, December 7 at 6 p.m. at the Westin Mission Hills Golf Resort & Spa in Rancho Mirage.

    Meet the residents and celebrate Eisenhower’s commitment to elevating medical diagnostics to the digital era. Proceeds will be directed to the acquisition of state-of-the-art hand-held ultrasound devices and other diagnostic equipment for Eisenhower’s inaugural class of residents and faculty in the School of Graduate Medical Education. click for more

  • Oak Glen Ripe for the ...
    Sometimes it seems like summer never wants to leave the desert. On those dog days of fall, while heat still clings to the Coachella Valley, the mile-high climate of Oak Glen provides the perfect backdrop for autumn family fun.

    An easy, hour-long drive from Palm Springs, Oak Glen is a 15 square-mile hamlet of soft hills, orchards and farms. Because Oak Glen is 10 to 15 degrees cooler than the desert, the air is as crisp and cool as a green apple, often laced with the scent of a cozy fire. This is where trees try on the new fall fashions, displaying brilliant leaves of blazing orange, crimson and gold. click for more

  • 5 THINGS
    1 . Get a Massage - Treat your body to a relaxing or therapeutic massage. Invite your spouse or a friend to join you at the spa.

    2 . Read a New Author - Peruse The New York Times Book Review and find some authors you’ve never read.

    3. Skip Dessert All Week - Muster your willpower and ignore your sweet tooth until Sunday — then savor every bite of a special dessert.

    4. Watch a Documentary - Scan your movie provider and choose an interesting documentary. You might learn something new!

    5. Write a Sweet Note - Write a short, kind note and leave it for a loved one to find. You’ll probably “make their day.”

  • Eisenhower Named Most ...
    For the second consecutive year, Eisenhower Medical Center has been recognized as one of the nation’s “Most Wired” health care facilities, according to the results of the 2013 Most Wired Survey released in the July issue of Hospitals & Health Networks magazine. Eisenhower is the first and only hospital in the Coachella Valley to receive the recognition. click for more
  • Eisenhower Named Leade...
    Eisenhower Medical Center has been recognized as a Leader in LGBT Healthcare Equality in the Healthcare Equality Index 2013, an annual survey conducted by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation,... click for more
  • Eisenhower Joins Ameri...
    Eisenhower Medical Center is joining the American Cancer Society for their landmark Cancer Prevention Study-3. The Cancer Prevention Study-3 (CPS-3) is a grassroots effort where local communities can... click for more
  • Figue - Savoring Medit...
    New Mediterranean eatery Figue (rhymes with league), located in La Quinta, is the vision of a passionate owner and an equally enthralled chef who was completely taken by the enthusiasm of his future employer. “The mission statement Lee Morcus posted when advertising for a chef was unlike any mission statement I’d ever read,” says Executive Chef Francois de Mélogue. “I was like the secretary in the Tom Cruise movie Jerry McGuire, who grabbed the goldfish and went with him. I was responding to what his energy was, and I knew what my experience could bring to the table.” click for more

Joe Whittaker’s Life-Saving, Life-Renewing Experience

A Journey of Faith and Medical Expertise

Joe and Darlene Whittaker  [4]
Joe and Darlene Whittaker
Joe Whittaker is a man of many talents. A successful business man who hails from Alberta, Canada, he is kind and generous, recently establishing with his wife Darlene a foundation which built and sponsors an orphanage and a school in Zambia, Africa. But what truly sets Joe apart from others is his ability to communicate. “He has the ability to affect people by what he says and how he says it,” explains Darlene. “The way he talks to others is a gift…a profound gift.”

During the winter months, the Whittakers live in Rancho Mirage. Rising early one morning, Joe walked into the family room to spend some quiet time — he loves the early morning hours. For some reason that day, he decided to go back to bed, something he never did. By 7:15 a.m., Joe could not get up and was unable to speak. Somehow he managed to wake Darlene who took one look at her husband and immediately called 911. She recalls hearing sirens even before she had hung up the phone. Upon arriving in the Tennity Emergency Department, Joe was diagnosed as having had several strokes.

The Whittakers were met by Eisenhower’s Stroke Coordinator Deborah Bayer, BSN, RN, CCRN, SCRN. Bayer, working with Stroke Neurologist Hamid Salari-Namin, MD, assessed and coordinated Joe’s care, helping the Whittakers understand his condition and preparing them for the following 24 hours. After performing the initial assessment, Dr. Salari-Namin contacted the on-call Interventional Radiologist, Mehran Elly, MD, who administered intra-arterial tissue plasminogen activator or tPA, a clot-busting medication.

“Dr. Elly told us he was confident that the tPA would work,” remembers Darlene. “He also said, ‘I’m only a doctor — God does the healing.’ I was so impressed with what he shared and was able to relax. His words made me feel more comfortable because we have a very strong faith.”

Following the procedure, Joe was transferred to the Critical Care Unit. Dr. Salari-Namin was suspicious that Joe’s multiple strokes had come from his heart. When Joe was stabilized, he ordered a transesophageal echocardiogram (TEE) to look into the heart and identify the source of the strokes. Cardiologist Philip Patel, MD, performed the procedure where they discovered unusual findings. In his upper right heart, Joe had a benign tumor called a papillary fibroelastoma. The fibroelastoma looked like a sea anemone that was gathering clots in the right side of his heart. Additionally, Joe had a hole in his heart that allowed for the clots to move from the right side of his heart to the left side and up into his brain. With no time to lose, Joe was evaluated by the cardiovascular surgical team and taken into open heart surgery under the direction of Cardiothoracic Surgeon Joseph Wilson, MD.

“Dr. Wilson told us that Joe needed urgent open heart surgery and his condition was as serious as it gets,” says Darlene. “He explained that if more clots continued to escape from Joe’s heart, the results could be fatal. They had to act immediately.” Joe’s surgery went well and he was transferred to the Cardiovascular Surgical Care Unit (CCU). The long, uncertain healing process began.

The Whittaker family, left to right: Jodi, Darlene, Joe and Jacqueline. [3211]
The Whittaker family, left to right: Jodi, Darlene, Joe and Jacqueline.
Flying from Canada, the Whittakers’ two daughters rushed to be with their parents, leaving their husbands to care for their children while they were away. “It was a horrific experience for all of us, because my husband couldn’t talk or move his right side. We didn’t know what was going to happen,” recalls Darlene. “My daughters and I visited Joe every day, and every day on the way to the hospital, I’d pray, Lord, give us a miracle,” says Darlene. “We sang quietly and we read to him. For the first four to five days, we didn’t get any reaction at all — we didn’t know what was going to happen or if he would ever speak or walk again. He was in really rough shape.”

Eventually, Joe began to respond to his family’s singing by tapping his hand or his foot.

Soon, he was stable enough to leave the CCU. At this time, the Acute Stroke Care team continued to coordinate Joe’s care. Joe was sent to the Stroke Unit where specialized nurses, physical therapists, speech therapist and occupational therapists began detailed assessments and early stroke and cardiac rehabilitation. When it was time to begin his next phase of recovery, acute inpatient rehabilitation was recommended. Normally, patients from Canada are transferred back to their country and placed into rehabilitation there. However, the Whittakers were adamant about Joe staying at Eisenhower.

Joe continued his recovery in the Eisenhower Inpatient Rehabilitation Center. “Dr. Weinstein and all the therapists were fabulous,” notes Darlene. “Joe had occupational, speech and physical therapy and they really pushed him. When he finally left the hospital, they wanted him to use a cane, but he told them no — he could walk. I think everyone was surprised at how well he’d done. At one point, we had thought that he would be in a wheelchair for the rest of his life. It was a miracle.”

“We had so many doctors and they were all great,” explains Darlene. “Joe received exceptional care every step of the way. One of our daughters has celiac disease and the cafeteria workers made sure there was special bread for her. We could tell that they genuinely cared about her situation and were willing to help. Everyone, from the cafeteria workers to the cleaning ladies and the volunteers, said they were praying for us. After being at Eisenhower for four weeks, we feel that it was critical that we were here in town when this happened.”

Movement by movement and phrase by phrase, Joe continues his recovery. “Eisenhower — I really feel it was the epitome of the best care we could have had — the best people,” says Joe. “They were all fabulous.”

With incredible determination and an unshakable faith, he slowly explains, “The next time you see me, I’ll be speaking like I used to speak.”

There is no reason to believe otherwise.