Standing six feet, two inches tall, Peter Dajevskis' presence can fill a room. Silver haired and distinguished, Peter's manner is quiet, his eyes soulful. Neither reveals the story of survival that beats deep within him.
Peter Dajevskis was born in a British Army Hospital in 1948 during the post World War II occupation of Germany. Just three weeks after birth, Peter's weight dropped drastically. His mother's breast milk - as well as breast milk donated by other mothers - would contribute to his sustenance, endurance and survival.
Immigrating with his parents to the United States in 1951, the Dajevskises settled in New York. Six years ago, Peter was diagnosed with gastric cancer. He successfully underwent surgery and treatment at a local hospital affiliated with Sloan-Kettering.
Affiliation Model of Care
During this time, Peter became familiar with the model of care where some of the nation's leading medical centers partner with other hospitals in the community to strengthen clinical programs, improve quality of care, and enhance outcomes. It was this experience Peter, now living in Pennsylvania, recounted before undergoing open-heart surgery at Chester County Hospital in December.
"The first question I asked was 'Do I have to travel to a Philadelphia hospital to receive the best care?'", Peter explains. "I was aware of Chester County Hospital's affiliation with Cleveland Clinic in cardiac surgery and suddenly realized that I had an exceptional hospital practically in my backyard."
Peter began to experience chest discomfort while bicycling in late November. On the advice of his family practitioner, Stephen Belfiglio, DO, Peter consulted with cardiologist Matthew Sewell, MD, who ordered a nuclear stress test. "I actually flunked the test," Peter says with a small smile adding that he had to be transported from Dr. Sewell's office directly to the Hospital by ambulance instead of making the one-mile drive himself.
An evaluation in Chester County Hospital's Emergency Department and subsequent cardiac catheterization showed that Peter had severe blockages in his three main coronary arteries. Because of this, he was not a candidate for catheter-based stent therapy. Once Peter's condition was stabilized, cardiac surgeon Martin LeBoutillier, III, MD would perform a beating heart or "off-pump" multi-vessel by-pass surgery two days later.
Grateful for the Expertise
Peter has often faced his own mortality. "These encounters only accentuate the huge differences between what it takes to nurture an infant in war time conditions compared to what we expect as the norm from our healthcare providers today. To be this close to leading edge treatment is something many take for granted."
Peter credits his clinical team for seeing him through this ordeal. "The care from my nurses, physicians and physician assistants was totally integrated; the entire team was accommodating to my needs and always available to me which really helped my recovery process."
Peter has completed his post-operative care and cardiac rehabilitation and today is back enjoying one of his great passions - developing interpretive exhibits for museums.