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Worldwide Search for Top Cardiac Surgeon Leads Right Back to Valley

When Suffern, New York resident Kenneth J. Torsoe was informed he needed coronary bypass surgery, he and his family members conducted a worldwide search to find the very best surgeon to conduct this operation. 

“They had to stop my heart, and then start it up again. It takes about 5 hours.” He asserts.  This was not something he and Brigitte, his wife of 56 years, felt comfortable leaving in the hands with just anyone - they wanted to make sure they had the most skillful and most experienced team in the very best facility.  Having straddled residence in both New York and Norway over the course of his lifetime, Ken was not averse to traveling, and was not daunted when his initial research led him to The Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, ranked No.1 in the United States in heart care programs.      

At first, all arrows pointed to a world-renowned cardiac surgeon at The Cleveland Clinic.  Mr. Torsoe started discussions with the practice based out of this Ohio-based health system, but was soon redirected by Cleveland Clinic’s own experts to someone much closer to home: Alex Zapolanski, M.D., F.A.C.C., F.A.C.S., Director of The Valley Hospital’s Heart and Vascular program.    

At the time, Mr. Torsoe was a robust 77-year old businessman, running his well-established construction company and being heavily involved in other areas of business development. His pragmatic approach to running an efficient corporation seems to carry over into many of his personal experiences. When reflecting on his experience in scheduling and attending various doctor appointments, he views Valley Health System as a well-oiled machine.   “I would show up for an appointment on time, and I would not wait long at all.  The people at Valley work hard, they don’t just mill around.”

Dr. Zapolanski operated on a Tuesday, and just three short days later Mr. Torsoe was discharged to continue his recovery at home, much to the concern of his wife Brigitte.  The two of them recall the Valley Home Care nurses visiting regularly the next two weeks, always smiling and bright.   “Valley employees seem happy.  I always say you have to be happy in your work.” he insists. “Find something you like to do and stick to it — that is how you can be happy.”  

Within two weeks of this 5-hour cardiac procedure, Mr. Torsoe was out walking around his neighborhood, and starting to resume his normal physical activities.  Years later, at age 81, Mr. Torsoe is still a vigorous entrepreneur, walks and rides his bike regularly, and steals off to Norway to sail his 42-foot sailboat as often as his crowded agenda allows.  

Coincidentally, in 2015, after a yearlong operational assessment of all of Valley Health System’s heart care programs, Cleveland Clinic's Sydell and Arnold Miller Family Heart & Vascular Institute selected Valley to serve as its exclusive cardiac affiliate in northern New Jersey.  The two systems share best practices, coordinate care and develop programs to improve quality and patient safety, which ultimately enhances the patients’ treatment options and provides them with greater access to clinical trials and technologies in cardiology and cardiac surgery.

For more information about Valley's award-winning Heart and Vascular Institute, please visit our website or call 201-447-8456 and a representative will be happy to assist you.

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