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Take me to St. Mark’s Hospital: For less pain and more listening

Meet Harvey and Sharon--the pair has undergone three recent back surgeries at St. Mark's Hospital. Find out why they say, "Take me to St. Mark's."

April 19, 2022
Harvey and Sharon Rishe wearing bike helmets.

Throughout their 53 years of marriage, Harvey and Sharon Rishe have prioritized their health. Harvey ran more than 50 marathons and climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, and together they biked and hiked all over the world. Yet age takes a toll, and no one escapes without some physical hardships. Thankfully, Harvey and Sharon say they have found excellent care and connected, compassionate physicians just minutes from their home.

“We’ve been going to St. Mark’s Hospital since the 80s, and we know the doctors there are top quality. Why go anywhere else?” Sharon said.

Two people, three back surgeries and a lot less pain

After a lifetime of pushing himself physically, Harvey’s lower back caused excruciating pain. He first tried non-surgical treatments like cortisone shots, but the degeneration proved too severe. That’s when he received a referral to see Dr. Sandeep Teja, neurosurgeon at St. Mark’s Hospital.

“Dr. Teja knows what he is doing. I thought he’d do surgery right away, but he wanted to wait. He is personable, takes his time and listens to what I have to say,” Harvey said.

A few months after their initial meeting, an MRI revealed that Harvey’s back problems had escalated, and it was time for surgery. Dr. Teja performed a lumbar discectomy, a procedure to remove portions of the damaged discs.

Not long after that, Sharon slipped on black ice, landing hard on her tailbone, and aggravating her long-term back pain.

“Suddenly, I felt numb … and had a terrible case of drop foot. When my St. Marks orthopedist asked if I had a preference of which surgeon to see, it was a no brainer to call Dr. Teja. He had already treated Harvey so well,” Sharon said. “I had a virtual video appointment on a Monday with Dr. Teja, and then he cleared his schedule so I could have surgery that Thursday. He’s so fabulous.” 

Harvey and Sharon said that the attentive surgical teams and compassionate care at St. Mark’s Hospital made a positive impact on their experiences. And for a time, the couple experienced respite from their pain, until Harvey’s lower back flared with a new problem. Two lumbar vertebrae in his back had shifted and misaligned, causing shooting pain.

“I had great relief after the first surgery, so when L3 and L4 became misaligned, Dr. Teja did surgery at St. Mark’s Hospital again. This too was successful,” Harvey said. “After my surgeries I often met with Caleb Jackson, NP, and he would go the extra mile. He was very reassuring and quick to respond – that’s how the whole team there works.”

Key characteristics of St. Mark’s Hospital physicians: Listening and collaborating

Since beginning their care at the hospital in the 1980s, Sharon and Harvey have spent time in a variety of specialties and with a variety of physicians. From internal medicine to cardiology to joint replacement to labor and delivery, they say the doctors at St. Mark’s glow with consistent key characteristics.

“First, a big thing for us is having doctors who listen. I type up all my questions and print them out … I’ve been to other hospitals where they acted like my research was annoying, but my doctors at St. Mark’s Hospital take time to listen and respond,” Sharon said.

Then Harvey chimed in.

“That’s right! And because your medical records are right there, and the physicians are all in close proximity to one another, the doctors coordinate. I’ve had doctors communicate in efficient and coordinated ways about my care. I appreciate how connected they are,” Harvey said. “Plus, they’re skilled, friendly and they listen. They have all the qualities in a doctor that I like.”

Although it only takes 5 minutes to drive to the hospital, the Rishes believe they’d say “Take me to St. Mark’s Hospital” even if it were further from home.

“I’d drive miles for a good doctor, but fortunately for us, St. Mark’s Hospital is close to home – but the distance isn’t my determining factor. I say, ‘Take me to St. Mark’s’ because of the results I get and because of the doctors themselves,” Harvey said.

To learn more, visit Wasatch Neurosurgery and Spine Associates online, or call (801) 261-8507.

More about the Spine Care Program at St. Mark's Hospital:

At St. Mark’s Hospital, we understand that neck and back pain can quickly put a halt on your enjoying life. Our highly experienced back specialists use surgical and nonsurgical treatments to treat back and neck pain and other symptoms associated with spine conditions.

April 19, 2022
St. Mark's Hospital

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