John Kistler

It has been decades—in fact, it was last century—since Independence resident John Kistler earned his masters degree in hospital administration at George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

But Kistler, 74, has homework these days and instead of earning grades, he is rewarded with improved eyesight.

Kistler suffered a stroke in August 2013 following a surgery where he received five heart bypasses.  The stroke caused physical injuries, including blurred vision.

“I went in for heart surgery on August 22, 2013 and when I woke up, discovered I couldn’t walk, feed myself or see very well because of a stroke on my left side,” says Kistler, a retired hospital administrator and sales professional. “Thirty-one days later I was discharged from Research Medical Center, able to walk and eat and armed with several assignments from my doctors.”

In the weeks following his recovery from both heart surgery and stroke, Kistler, who has no family history of heart disease, worked with a team of physical, occupational and speech therapists directed by Steven Kosa, MD, board-certified neurologist, Bangalore Deepak, MD, board-certified interventional cardiologist and Frederic L. Seligson, MD, board-certified cardiothoracic surgeon, on Research Medical Center’s cardiac care and rehab unit. 

Research Medical Center is part of HCA Midwest Health System, Kansas City’s largest healthcare provider. Dr. Kosa, Dr. Deepak and Dr. Seligson are part of Midwest Physicians—a network of experienced, multi-specialty physicians located throughout the Greater Kansas City metropolitan area—also part of HCA Midwest Health System. 

Kistler, bolstered and inspired by the support of his wife, Ann, and three daughters including Research Medical Center cardiac nurse Cecelie Brower; Karen Dovel, RN; and Judy Short, made good progress in his recovery efforts.

“I was motivated to overcome my challenges,” says Kistler. “Not just by my family’s love, but by the compassionate and genuine care of the physicians, nurses and therapists at Research Medical Center.”

Once released from the hospital, Kistler was tasked with overhauling a diet that, up until his surgery, had largely consisted of hamburgers, steaks and other artery-clogging foods. 

“I wasn’t overweight, and exercised three to four times a week,” says Kistler.  “I smoked when I was younger, but quit in 1973. When I went in for surgery I had a little bit of COPD, which has gotten better since the operation.  I now eat a low-fat diet and have stuck with it, for the most part.”

Kistler notes it’s sometimes difficult to appreciate quality healthcare until it becomes personal.

“I have worked at teaching hospitals and served in hospital administration and have to admit that being on the receiving end was a real eye-opener,” he says. “I am grateful I was in such good hands here at Research Medical Center. They helped me get back to living my life in a positive, healthy way.”

Kistler’s ongoing homework, which includes eye exercises to help reprogram his brain, continues to help restore his eyesight.

“I’m able to see more details every day,” says Kistler. “And one thing very clear to me is how excellent healthcare transforms lives. I am living proof.”