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CCU Atheneum: Minter strikes a pose for the hospital's marketing campaign.
Minter strikes a pose for the hospital's marketing campaign.

The new face for regional cardiac care

by Brian Druckenmiller
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Joe Minter is the face of a new marketing campaign for the Grand Strand Regional Medical Center's heart unit. Minter, who is CCU's information resource consultant in ITS, is being featured on billboards, print ads and radio spots.

Minter’s new gig comes with a price: triple bypass surgery and months of cardio rehabilitation. After retiring from the U.S. Coast Guard in 2002, Minter was diagnosed with a partial blockage in his right coronary artery. Since then, he has regularly received treatment from a cardiologist, who did not notice any symptoms of further problems over the years. Around Thanksgiving 2011, Minter was feeling more fatigued than usual, and a pain in his shoulder started to develop. In early February, the symptoms hit him hard, forcing him to go to the hospital for a catheterization.

“I was walking across the bridge over Wall Pond,” said Minter, “when, all of a sudden, it felt like someone had thrown a spear through me. I knew I had to go to the doctor.”

Minter found out he needed a bypass, and once he arrived at Grand Strand Regional, it was determined that a triple bypass was necessary as two more arteries were clogged. On Feb. 9, at the age of 54, he underwent the surgery.

“I didn’t exercise too much,” said Minter. “I was forced to do it for 24 years in the Coast Guard, so I stopped when I retired. I was doing yard work and thought that was enough, but it obviously wasn’t. I should’ve seen this coming.”

Surgery went well, and Minter immediately started intense cardio rehab, taking a six-week convalescent leave from his job duties. His training was three times a week and included treadmill, rowing, elliptical and free weights. Although rehab was unbearable at first, Minter has fought hard and is excelling in his recuperation.

“At first, I could hardly walk,” said Minter. “But since I started, I have lost 28 pounds. I feel great!”

Minter recently finished the second phase of his in-hospital rehab, and has started the third, which involves maintenance he can do on his own outside of the hospital as well as occasional check-ups with his cardiologist. He goes to the Williams-Brice Recreation Center on campus, using the cardio equipment as well as the weights.

“Rehab will never end,” said Minter. “This is a change in lifestyle, unless I want to end up right back on the operating table.”

Minter’s hard work and speedy recovery did not go unnoticed. Joan Carroza, marketing director of Grand Strand Regional, thought his story represents the heart center’s mission and that of the entire hospital.

“We’re looking to show the community the services and technology available in our hospital,” said Carroza. “I asked our staff about who might be good to represent the hospital, and his story was highly recommended. We’re starting to see more patients in their 40s and 50s; this is fairly young, and that’s obviously not a good thing. [Joe] shows that not only can this happen to anyone, but anyone can get through it.”

The campaign includes print ads for local papers and magazines as well as billboards and radio spots. The print ads consist of a collage of photos of patients involved with different procedures. Minter, of course, represents bypass surgery. Some of the material has already been released.

The hospital's heart center, which has served the Grand Strand since the early 1980s, has recently been named the top hospital in South Carolina for heart surgery by HealthGrades (an online service that connect patients with physicians). The new advertising campaign touts the hospital’s award-winning cardiac service and promotes its developments in cardiophysiology, including work with robotics.

“[Grand Strand Regional] is a very advanced hospital for the area,” said Jamie Dunham, a representative for Brand Wise of Nashville, Tenn. She creates the hospital’s consumer campaigns. “We’ve had wonderful participation thus far, including Joe. He is a great reminder of what you should do and where you should go if you have a condition.”

When he’s not striking a pose, Minter sets up “smart” classrooms around campus by installing digital projectors, simulcast and Wi-Fi. Although he helps instructors by providing a high-tech classroom experience, his recent accomplishments are rubbing off on his co-workers, too.

“Joe’s experience has caused me to re-examine my lifestyle, to get more exercise and watch my diet more carefully,” said Gene Carlisle, help desk manager in information technology services. “Joe will make an excellent ‘poster boy’ for cardiac rehab, and he is quite deserving of his new-found stardom.”

Though Carlisle and other co-workers give Minter a hard time about being a poster boy, Minter was happy to be considered for the advertisements, even joking about receiving his “royalty check.”

The campaign’s slogan is “Right Here. Right Now.” Minter’s new perspective embodies this motto, for what we do (or don’t do) today can have an effect on tomorrow.

 

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