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Dawn DelMonico was at her husband Stephen’s bedside for the past month.

Fortunately, the recently launched St. Francis Open Heart Surgery Program at Good Samaritan Hospital had in place an expert cardiothoracic surgical team from St. Francis on-site at Good Sam. Within moments the team was mobilized to perform life-saving surgery on Mr. DelMonico.

A New Jersey resident, Mr. DelMonico spends two nights per week at a Babylon motel to cut down on commuting to his Deer Park job. On February 18, while in his motel room, Mr. DelMonico experienced severe chest pain. An ambulance brought him to Good Samaritan where his condition was assessed as extremely critical.

That night, Chairman of Cardiothoracic Surgery and Director of the St. Francis Open Heart Surgery Program at Good Samaritan Christopher La Mendola, MD, was confronted with one of the most challenging cases in cardiothoracic surgery.

“I have seen about 50 aortic dissection cases out of more than 5,000 open heart surgeries I performed during a 20 year career at St. Francis,” said Dr. La Mendola. “Presented with one of the most difficult dissection cases I’ve ever seen, I am very proud that everyone on the team at Good Samaritan used their incredible skills and experience to save Steve’s life.”

So serious is aortic dissection, the condition that killed actor John Ritter that many of its victims die before reaching the hospital and about 25 percent that do reach the hospital do not survive surgery. Just four weeks after the operation to repair the tear in his aorta, Mr. DelMonico was transferred from Good Samaritan to an intensive inpatient rehabilitation facility in New Jersey to continue his recovery closer to his home and family.

“My doctors rebuilt me. I was going to die,” said Mr. DelMonico. “I believe if I had not been on Long Island I would not have survived.”

Dawn DelMonico was at her husband Stephen’s bedside for the past month.

For more information on the open heart surgery program at Good Samaritan, please visit or call (631) 376-4444.

Good Samaritan Hospital Medical Center is a 537-bed (including 100 nursing home beds), voluntary, not-for-profit hospital located in West Islip. The medical center, which has more than 3,500 employees and 900 physicians on staff, had nearly 28,000 patient admissions and nearly 100,000 emergency department visits in 2012. Good Samaritan is a member of Catholic Health Services of Long Island. Visit the website at

The medical center supplies residents with the tools necessary to maintain good health. This includes community lectures, screenings, health fairs and other community programs and services.