Gratitude at The Miriam Hospital

with gratitude

Gratitude is...part of the healing process.
... life changing.
... always appreciated.

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The kindness and reassurance I received from The Miriam care team was comforting, and their early detection of my cancer helped to save my life. I am beyond grateful.

It was March 2019 and Kristen Contarino had the flu. But this bout of influenza was different.

“The vicious cough that developed shortly after was like nothing I’d ever experienced,” she recalls. “Forgive the graphic details here, but during one of the more intense coughing fits, I felt a large hard chunk of something come up.”

The something was hardened blood.

After some nudging from her husband Joe, Kristen, a 36-year-old busy mom, agreed to call her primary care doctor. Her doctor said if Kristen had a similar episode, she should go to the emergency room as soon as possible. Just 30 minutes later, Kristen again coughed up blood.

“They were worried I might have a pulmonary embolism,” Kristen says. So, she and Joe quickly headed to the emergency department at The Miriam Hospital. There, she underwent a CT scan of her chest, which concluded that she did not have a pulmonary embolism. But they did discover a mass.

“The absolute gut punch that you feel in that moment is hard to describe,” Kristen explains. “It’s a weakness like none other, a pain and sickness all at once.”

Kristen says her first thoughts were of her children and what would happen to them if anything happened to her. And then she started to cry.

“The nurse took my hands and hugged me. Her kindness settled me,” Kristen says. “She asked about my babies. Of course, they weren’t really babies, but they will always be my babies. Talking about them always brings me joy and calms me down.”

A bronchoscopy was performed on Kristen to scope the mass and pull tissue from it to determine exactly what it was: a carcinoid tumor in the right middle lobe of her lung. It had to be removed as soon as possible, because the quicker it was removed, the quicker it could be contained and, hopefully, no further treatments would be needed.

In the days and weeks that followed, Kristen would learn firsthand what The Miriam’s mission of “delivering health with care” was all about. She was seen by a pulmonologist, underwent a Pulmonary Function Test and PET scan, met with a surgeon, an oncologist, a social worker, went for pre-op testing ... In her words, “the list never ended.”

“Despite all of my doctors assuring me that we caught this early, it was curable, and the surgery was something they do all the time - I was not convinced,” she says. “To me, this was a major procedure. Remove a part of an organ? This was not normal.”

But it was necessary.

Kristen underwent a video-assisted thoracoscopy, where the right middle section of her lung was removed. The surgery was a success. She would lose a minimal amount of lung and breathing capacity and would not need any chemo or radiation.

Today, Kristen is back to her healthy, active lifestyle and credits her entire care team at The Miriam—especially Medical Oncologist Hina Khan, MD, and Pulmonologist Peter Karczmar, MD—with helping her achieve a full recovery.

“The kindness and reassurance I received from everyone was comforting,” she says, “and their early detection of my cancer helped to save my life.”


I felt cared for and cared about every time I stepped foot in that hospital. I can’t even quantify my feelings for The Miriam...It’s just a wonderful place.

It’s safe to say that no one looks forward to surgery. But many do feel grateful looking back on the experience when it was successful and improves their health and well-being in a meaningful way. Such is the case with Herb Obodda.

Several years ago, Herb’s primary care doctor referred him to Gyan Pareek, MD, The Miriam’s Interim Chief, Division of Urology, and Co-Director, Minimally Invasive Urology Institute (MIUI), for a urological issue that turned out to be early-stage bladder cancer.

When his initial course of treatment proved unsuccessful, Dr. Pareek consulted with his colleague, Dragan Golijanin, MD, Co-Director of the MIUI and Director of Genitourinary Oncology, and it was determined that neobladder reconstruction surgery – a complex and still novel procedure – was Herb’s best option.

Using the state-of-the-art da Vinci Surgical System, Dr. Golijanin was able to remove Herb’s nonfunctioning bladder, create a new one from a section of his small intestine, and attach it to his urethra, the tube that controls the release of urine from the body. The six-hour, minimally invasive surgery was a success, and Herb did not require a stoma or collection bag.

After a week of inpatient recovery and about three months of “taking it easy,” Herb reports that he was back to his active lifestyle with minimum disruptions. Flashing forward to present day, Herb adds that he cherishes the “second life” he credits our doctors and nurses with providing him, and the excellent quality of life he has enjoyed in the years since his surgery.

“The personal connection I had with my doctors and nurses was strong,” he explains. “They were all amazing and very attentive. I felt cared for and cared about every time I stepped foot in that hospital. I can’t even quantify my feelings for The Miriam...It’s just a wonderful place.”

Ramon Hinds

They’re all amazing people at The Miriam who care deeply for the patients they work with. You can feel the love!

Over the course of a few days in June 2020, Ramon Hinds suffered not one, but two heart attacks. In both cases, the 57-year-old from Pawtucket was rushed to The Miriam Hospital and received the lifesaving care he needed. That care included the use of defibrillator paddles to deliver an electric shock to revive him.

And in the hospital’s cath lab, stents were inserted into Ramon’s clogged artery using an ultrasound-guided, balloon catheter. The successful procedure opened the artery and allowed blood to flow more freely.

Once his heart returned to proper functionality, Ramon was ready to enter the next phase of his recovery—and he counted on The Miriam for that, as well, enrolling in the hospital’s Cardiac Rehabilitation Program. During the 12-week session, a team of cardiologists, registered nurses, exercise physiologists, nutritionists, behavioral health psychologists, and pharmacists focused their expertise on improving Ramon’s health.

Today, Ramon remains a regular participant in The Miriam’s Cardiopulmonary Maintenance Program and maintains close ties with the friends he’s made there. A chef and caterer who specializes in vegetarian, plant-based dishes, Ramon routinely drops off foods for the folks he calls “lifesavers.”

Ramon was so grateful for his care he wrote a heartfelt poem of appreciation to the staff while still inpatient. Reflecting back on his world-class patient experience, he says: “They’re all amazing people at The Miriam who care deeply for the patients they work with. You can feel the love!”

Eileen's story

I hope I never need The Miriam again. But if I do, I know I’ll be in good hands. That’s for sure!

It was mid-August 2021, and Eileen Ameen of North Attleborough, Massachusetts, was experiencing terrible pain in her right side. A trip to The Miriam Hospital’s emergency department and a follow-up MRI revealed that she had an infected, inflamed gallbladder and significant duct blockage. Her doctors determined that the best course of action was to remove Eileen’s gallbladder—and quickly.

Gallbladder removal, while common, is still major surgery, and there are risks and potential complications associated with the procedure. Fortunately, for Eileen, David R. Cloutier, MD, general surgeon at The Miriam and the hospital’s chief of surgical quality, performed her laparoscopic cholecystectomy, and everything went according to plan.

During her eight-day stay at The Miriam, Eileen witnessed a world-class medical team in action. The experience, she says, was eye-opening and left her abundantly grateful and thankful that such care is availabel right here in our community.

“You’re treated with such dignity and respect at The Miriam,” Eileen says. “I don’t know of too many places beyond this hospital where you can have such skilled, compassionate people checking in on you and making sure you’re ok. The doctors, nurses, techs, support staff...everyone was so wonderful.”

I am grateful for every professional who helped take care of me, from the people working in the kitchen to the cleaners, the CNAs, the nurses and doctors – they were all fantastic. My experience being sick with COVID-19 in the ICU was scary, but at the same time it moved me.

In late February 2020, after coming home from chaperoning a high school class trip to Europe, Marc Thibault started experiencing shortness of breath and fatigue. Days later, with his condition worsening, the then 48-year-old followed a gut feeling that told him to go to The Miriam Hospital. There, Marc tested positive for COVID-19, becoming the first patient diagnosed and treated for the disease in Rhode Island. Close to death and fighting for every breath, he was soon put on mechanical ventilation.

Eventually, Marc turned a corner and was well enough to have the ventilation tube removed. He ended up spending weeks recovering in the ICU before he was well enough to return to his home in Coventry. He vividly remembers how scary it was to be so critically ill – especially at a time when the medical community’s understanding of the virus was still evolving. Now recovered, Marc also looks back on his experience with immense gratitude. For the nurse who took the time to shave his beard in full PPE. For the courageous cleaning staff who entered his room when he knew it was the last place anyone would want to be. And for his team of doctors, nurses, and respiratory therapists, who worked tirelessly to help him beat the disease.

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