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Monday, May 30, 2011 - Leading an active lifestyle once again, Thanks to vascular procedure for narrow, clogged arteries

Wanda Clark, an anesthesia technician in the Surgery department at Methodist Medical Center, has spent the past seven years at the side of patients and their families.  During the last year, Clark


Wanda Clark stands in the specialized endovascular surgical suite where she works as an anesthesia technician - and where she underwent a procedure by Dr. William Dallas to help restore blood flow to her legs.  Following her surgery, Wanda was back at work within three days with a renewed stamina and an even deeper understanding for the needs of patients and families who come to Methodist for surgery.  "It's a promise that we'll take care of you and your family."

has been both the patient and the family member of a patient in the very department where she works.  It was an experience that not only brought her renewed stamina to enjoy the activities she loves, it reinforced her belief that the staff in surgery is not just a group of coworkers – they’re family.  

Clark has a hereditary condition of abnormally small arteries in her legs.  It is common between her and her mother.  Clark has always led an active life; she was a basketball player in high school and now enjoys golf and bowling.  Her job in the Surgery department at Methodist also keeps her on her feet.  But Clark’s artery condition began causing more frequent leg problems, and she found herself increasingly compensating for the weakness that began to develop.  Plaque build-up in the already narrow arteries prevented adequate blood flow through the legs, and Clark would find herself taking only a few steps before one of her legs would begin to drag.  She began avoiding unnecessary movement.

“If I was playing golf and couldn’t walk to where I had hit the ball, I’d just play another,” says Clark who found herself adjusting her life to her condition.

Many years ago, she had undergone other procedures to put stents in her affected arteries, but it wasn’t until a recent procedure by surgeon William Dallas, MD, that she really began to enjoy the comfort and energy that comes with clear, open arteries.

Dr. Dallas used an atherectomy device to open Clark’s arteries in order to perform a more effective angioplasty.  In the procedure, Clark’s arteries were cleared by grinding away atherosclerotic plaque build-up.  This different application of the atherectomy tool can improve the success of balloon angioplasty and stenting.   

Clark remembers, “When Dr. Dallas told me he had a new procedure, I said, ‘Let’s do it!’ I knew it was time.”

Clark also knew who she wanted taking care of her. “The Methodist spirit is just there… it’s the promise that we’ll take care of you, but we’re also going to take care of your family, too, so you can be at ease. I don’t hesitate to let any patient know, ‘We will take care of you; you are #1.’”

Clark, who is accustomed to providing that type of care, experienced what it’s like to receive it when her mother underwent the same procedure a few months later.

“My mother was scheduled for a similar surgery on New Year’s Eve.  When the vascular staff found out that she was going to have surgery that day, they all changed their vacation schedules in order to be here.  They are an amazing, dedicated staff.”

Following her own surgery, Clark was back to work after three days, and at her last check-up with Dr. Dallas, her blood flow had improved by 80%. 

“It’s amazing what a difference there is,” said Clark.  “I don’t have leg cramps at night and I have improved physical stamina, and that just improves your whole outlook.  I want to get up and do.” 

Clark, who before her surgery could only walk a few steps before her legs would start giving out, now walks an average of 15,000 steps every day.  She uses a pedometer to measure her steps.  It’s part of Covenant Health’s Wellness 4 LIFE employee wellness initiative, which offers incentives for employees to maintain active, healthy lifestyles.

Clark says she is ready for the spring so that she can get back on the golf course and walk the first nine holes.  She’s already played in two golf tournaments since her surgery and she’s back to bowling, as well. 

“I don’t have to compensate anymore,” says Clark.  “When I’m on the golf course, I’m might not play any better shots, but I walk to my ball now.” 

Clark now knows the full circle of care at Methodist Medical Center: from the inside as an employee, to being on the operating table as a patient, then in the waiting room as a patient’s daughter. 

She knows the ins and outs of the hospital and can proudly say that she chooses Methodist Medical Center for her employment, her care, and her family’s care. 

“It’s my family. My Methodist. We couldn’t ask for anything better.”