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Oct 2, 2018 2:23 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Stony Brook Southampton Hospital Staffer Receives Life Saving Treatment In Lab He Helped Build

Scott Comenzo, Director of Biomedical Engineering at Stony Brook Southampton Hospital, in the Hospital’s Cardiac Catheterization Lab. COURTESY STONY BROOK SOUTHAMPTON HOSPITAL
Oct 2, 2018 3:10 PM

It was early morning on January 4, the air cold and crisp, when Scott Comenzo, the director of biomedical engineering at Stony Brook Southampton Hospital, drove to Southampton from his Hampton Bays home.

He went about his day—inspecting and repairing monitoring systems, anesthesia and respiratory machines, defibrillators and medical equipment in the hospital’s Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory and Coronary Care Unit—as Winter Storm Grayson dumped more than a foot of snow across the South Fork.

Just after noon, when his day was winding down, Mr. Comenzo, 55, left the hospital—not knowing that he would return in a few short hours. When he arrived home, after navigating icy roads and windy intersections, a wall of dirt covered snow, left behind by a passing plow, was packed into the end of his driveway.

Mr. Comenzo got out his snow blower and began the daunting task of clearing a path through the almost three-foot high white drifts covering the blacktop. He wasn’t more than half way done when something went very wrong, he remembered.

“I started feeling chest pains and getting very hot and sweaty. I knew something wasn’t right,” Mr. Comenzo said on Tuesday morning. “I took an aspirin or two and I waited.”

Mr. Comenzo was in the early stages of a heart attack. Within minutes, paramedics from the Hampton Bays Volunteer Ambulance Corps loaded him into an ambulance and brought him to the Jenny and John Paulson Emergency Department where staff called a Code H, a code used to alert medical personnel of a patient having a heart attack.

He was rushed to the Cardiac Catheterization lab, where he was monitored by the very same systems he had previously helped to install, examine and repair.

“It never crossed my mind that I would have to be in there for a procedure,” said Mr. Comenzo, who has worked at the hospital for the past 26 years. “I had a lot of chest pain, but I just felt at ease because I knew where I was going.”

Cardiologist Scott R. McGlynn implanted two stents to help open the blocked arteries—making Mr. Comenzo one of the 334 procedures that have taken place in the lab since it opened last September.

If the lab wasn’t opened, “I might have had more heart damage,” Mr. Comenzo said. “The longer you wait, the worse it gets.”

Prior to the opening of the Cardiac Catheterization lab, which was the first on the East End, the next nearest treatment facility was almost 50 miles away at Stony Brook University Hospital. Now, specialists from the Stony Brook University Heart Institute are available at the local lab 24/7 to perform both emergency and elective treatments.

Today, almost 10 months after receiving the treatment, Mr. Comenzo is down 25 pounds and said his heart is in “great shape,” and he feels healthier than ever.

“I look at every day as a gift because it could have been a lot worse,” he said.

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