Wired for Work: Electrician Won’t Let Bypass Zap Energy
Jun 2, 2022
Sutter Health
Patient riding physical therapy/rehabilitation equipment

By Clayton Warren and Monique Binkley Smith, Vitals contributors


It’s a safe bet that most 84-year-olds who’ve recently had triple heart bypass surgery might at least consider slowing down, but not longtime Oakland resident Leonard Mercer. Originally from the Bronx, Mercer has worked as an electrician in the East Bay for more than 65 years and has no plans to retire–despite having a triple bypass in March.

“I’m walking every day and I’m following all my instructions on how to recover from my surgery,” Mercer says. “Even though I can’t do any heavy lifting, I can still provide guidance to my helper so that we can get our [electrical] jobs done. I can’t sit around. That’s just the way I am.”

“An angiogram revealed that three of my arteries were blocked,” says Mercer. “I was told that Alta Bates Summit Medical Center had a great cardiac surgery program and I’m very pleased with how my surgery went.”

The high-quality care Mercer received at Alta Bates Summit is not unusual. In fact, the medical center recently earned three stars –the highest rating— from The Society of Thoracic Surgeons for patient care and outcomes in both isolated coronary artery bypass grafting procedures and isolated mitral valve replacement and repair surgery.

Junaid Khan, MD, is director of Cardiovascular Services at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center

Dr. Junaid Khan, director of Cardiovascular Services at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center

This is the fifth time in six years that the medical center has earned the distinguished three-star rating, which places Alta Bates Summit, part of the Sutter Health network of care, among the elite cardiac surgery programs for these procedures in the U.S. and Canada. Historically, only about 6–10 percent of surgery programs receive the three-star rating for isolated coronary artery bypass grafting surgery.

“The three-star rating is widely regarded as the gold standard by which cardiac surgery programs are evaluated and it’s the highest honor achievable,” says Dr. Junaid Khan, director of Cardiovascular Services for Alta Bates Summit. “We take great pride in the high-quality care we provide that has resulted in long-term positive results. This recognition validates our comprehensive cardiac surgery program’s excellence.”

For his part, a grateful –and lively— Mercer says he’s looking forward to starting cardiac rehabilitation.

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