From life-threatening crisis to life-changing rewards

May 14, 2019

Last June, Joe Polinski was taken to Beebe Healthcare in Lewes by ambulance. The EMTs thought Joe might be experiencing appendicitis. When Joe arrived in the Emergency Department, he received a CT scan. Joe recalled, “Dr. Sofronski came down around 5:30 am and said, ‘Joe, you have something serious going on. Your CT scan shows fluid in the abdominal area and we can’t tell where it’s coming from. You’re going into surgery right now because this is serious.’”

As Joe was being wheeled into the operating room, Joe’s wife Bernie said, “Joe, you have the best surgeon. I’ve read about him, I’ve Googled him, our friends have told me about him. Joe, you’re in very good hands with Dr. Sofronski.”

Joe was in surgery for five hours. Dr. Sofronski gave Bernie an update, “Your husband is a very sick man and he is going to be here for quite a while, probably weeks.” Bernie’s immediate response was, “I want to transfer Joe to Christiana where his specialists are located.” That’s when Dr. Sofronski told Bernie, “Joe can’t be transferred anywhere right now. We’re taking him up to the Intensive Care Unit.”

“This was truly a life-threatening, crisis situation,” Bernie said, “and I was concerned about the care Joe would receive. I wondered, ‘Would our community hospital really be able to handle this?’”

Joe doesn’t remember much from his first day in ICU, but he started to be more coherent on the second day. “When Dr. Sofronski came in to see me, he was standing in the doorway and I was looking at him thinking, this must be one of my friends coming in for a visit. He just made me feel so comfortable,” Joe said. With the help of his physical therapist, Joe was up and walking laps around the ICU on the second morning after surgery.

Bernie was impressed with the care Joe received from everyone at Beebe. “Beebe’s hospitalists, nurses, and physical therapists coordinated their care and attended to all of Joe’s medical needs. Dr. Sofronski would come in every day and smile wider and wider over Joe’s progress. Joe was in the hospital for only 10 days – not weeks.”

Bernie continued, “Dr. Sofronski hit us with hard facts about Joe’s lifestyle and everything that had to change for Joe to truly get better. He said to Joe, ‘I really want to work with you so you can continue your recovery and regain your health.’”

Now, almost a year later, Joe is very excited about his accomplishments, “I’ve lost weight before, but I have never lost this much so quickly, and I’ve never been able to keep it off. So far, I’ve lost almost 80 pounds! Physical therapy also helped me to regain my strength from a previous surgery. I am continuing to make progress, and I exercise regularly at a local fitness center.”

Bernie said, “I am so proud of Joe. He has made amazing progress. Joe’s cardiologist is excited about how well he is doing and said his next six-month appointment could be ‘called in.’ His endocrinologist is also so excited how well Joe is doing and keeps reducing his insulin because his diabetes is improving so much.”

Joe has followed Dr. Sofronski’s directions; he has truly transformed his body and his health by healthy eating habits and significant weight loss. Joe has always been an achiever and gets results. He now feels great and enjoys life to the fullest. He also feels Dr. Sofronski is a friend as well as a doctor. None of these results would have been possible without Dr. Sofronski’s support.

When we surprised Dr. Sofronski with a Celebration of Excellent Care, he said, “It’s been a privilege to care for Joe and Bernie. They have been actively involved, which makes my job as a physician easier and more rewarding. This team approach in medicine optimizes outcomes, as exemplified by Joe’s recovery from emergency surgery, as well as his weight loss, which was all due to hard work with dietary and lifestyle modifications.”

Joe and Bernie Polinski made a wonderful gift designated to support Robotic Surgery in celebration of the amazing care Joe received from Dr. Sofronski. Their generous gift will support the purchase of a Da Vinci Robot for Beebe Healthcare’s new Specialty Surgical Hospital. The groundbreaking ceremony for this new facility at the Rehoboth Health Campus on Route 24 is planned for Wednesday, May 15.

To learn how Beebe Healthcare is Creating the Next Generation of Care, and how to be a part of the I Believe in Beebe Campaign, go to As a community-based, not-for-profit healthcare system, Beebe Healthcare depends on the generous support of individuals, corporations, businesses, and private foundations. All gifts to Beebe Healthcare, large or small, are tax-deductible and are channeled through Beebe Medical Foundation.



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