My heartwarming heart surgery with Dr. Steven Marra

October 25, 2022

I was at work May 2, when I felt slight pressure on the right side of my chest. I said to myself, if it happens again, I will go see my doctor. Two days later, May 4, the same pressure happened twice. I called Dr. Jeffrey Hawtof’s office and made an appointment for 8 a.m. the next day.

When I saw Dr. Hawtof, he said, “Richard, I should call 911 and have an ambulance take you to Beebe’s Emergency Department for cardiac testing and if necessary, a cardiac catheterization to see what is going on.” I told him no, I would go home and make an appointment to see a cardiologist, even though Dr. Hawtof said I might have to wait several weeks. I told him if the pressure episode happened again, I would go to the ER.

I made a June 7 appointment with Ajith G. Kumar, MD, and was seen by his assistant, who scheduled a CT scan. Soon after, I received a call that Dr. Kumar wanted to perform a cardiac catheterization. I thought, well, at least I avoided the ambulance ride to Beebe.

When my husband Cliff and I arrived at Beebe, check-in went very smoothly.  We were escorted to the Cath Lab and the nursing staff was top-notch. They answered our questions, and made us feel welcome and in the best of hands. When my catheterization was complete, Dr. Kumar talked with me and Cliff, and let us know I needed surgery. An appointment was set up with Steven W. Marra, MD, a Beebe Medical Group cardiothoracic surgeon.

On our first visit to Dr. Marra’s office, we met with Brian McCarthy, his physician assistant. Brian explained the procedure and answered all our questions. On our next visit, Dr. Marra himself spent a good hour with us, showing the images of my heart and the situation that required surgery. Cliff and I both left the appointment feeling very comfortable with Dr. Marra and his team.

My surgery was scheduled for June 23, and once again, check-in went smoothly, and we were escorted to the surgical unit. Dr. Marra told Cliff I would be in surgery for a good four hours. I woke up in the Intensive Care Unit, where my nurses were extraordinary and very attentive. My vitals were checked frequently, I was asked about my pain and my nurses made sure I was comfortable.

The very next morning, after breakfast, my nurses told me I would be taught how to get out of bed properly, with assistance, and take my first walk down the hall. Dr. Marra checked in later and told me everything looked great, and Brian McCarthy would also be checking on me. Amen! Cliff came in and asked about discharge procedures and home care. One of my nurses said this would all be explained later, and Beebe Home Care would be part of my discharge plan.

It was time for another stroll Saturday morning, and with my nurses assisting and me using a walker, I made it completely around the ICU. Dr. Marra asked how I was feeling, and I said I was having no problems. Brian also checked on how I was doing with the breathing tube to keep my lungs clear. I told him how much I appreciated my good friend the red cardiac pillow; it sure saved me some pain when I had to sneeze or cough. When Cliff came in, he was still concerned about what would happen after my discharge, so I tried to reassure him plans would be in place.

Dr. Marra saw me early Sunday morning and said I would be out of there Monday. My nurse and I went for my walk with no problems, and around noon, I had another visit with Brian. He asked if Cliff was concerned about my home care, and stayed around to talk with him directly.

Monday morning, my nurses got me up and ready for my discharge, Cliff arrived, a wheelchair appeared and off to home we went! Everyone at Beebe was wonderful and so eager to assist. They went above and beyond their responsibilities. My heartfelt thanks and love go out to all of you!

As a community-based, not-for-profit healthcare system, Beebe Healthcare depends on the generous support of the community it serves. To make a gift to celebrate the excellent care you or a loved one has received, visit Beebe Medical Foundation at or call 302-644-2900. Want to share your story? Contact Amanda Neal at

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