On the ‘brink’ of dying, a simple phone call saved CT woman’s life. Here’s how.

When Sarah Clyne felt a pop in her chest, she made sure she got to the hospital Emergency Department, but unfortunately the hospital she chose did not have a team ready to perform the surgery she needed.

Fortunately, her mother, Peggy Egan, had a doctor friend who knew the number to call. The hospital called and Clyne, 42, who lives in Newtown, was rushed across the state to Hartford Hospital.

Within 2½ hours on Oct. 7, she was having an aortic aneurysm repaired that was close to rupturing.

“She was on the brink of losing her life,” said Dr. Ayyaz Ali, the cardiac surgeon on the team.

That number was to the Care Logistics Center, which doesn’t sound exciting but can mean the difference between life and death by arranging transfers to a Hartford HealthCare hospital from another medical center on a moment’s notice.

“We manage patient throughout for all seven of the Hartford HealthCare hospitals, as well as the three freestanding Emergency Departments,” said Elizabeth Ciotti, vice president in charge of the center.

“So we manage about 2,500 beds across the system. Somebody wants to come into Hartford HealthCare, they go through us and that’s what happened on this day.”

People can come from anywhere, even outside the country, Ciotti said.

“If their families want them to come to Hartford HealthCare, if they’re in another hospital, if they’re at a doctor’s office, if they’re in an Emergency Department, they call this one number and we help them get into one of our hospitals,” she said.

It’s a little-known system that many hospitals, especially larger ones, have — Yale New Haven Health calls its system the Y Access Transfer Center — but it must be a doctor who makes the call, not a patient. Hartford HealthCare arranges about 1,000 transfers a month, Ciotti said.

“The nurse takes the name of the patient, gets some of the symptoms that is going on with the patient and they determine what kind of physician would need to be called to take care of that patient,” Ciotti said.

“We then call that physician — in this case, it was a cardiothoracic physician,” she said. “And then we connect the physician who was going to be taking the patient at the hospital with the physician who was sending the patient so the two of them can talk and decide what needs to happen with the patient.”

The Emergency Department is notified and within 30 minutes the transfer is arranged. Life Star wasn’t flying that day, so Clyne arrived by ambulance.

On Oct. 7, Egan had called her friend, Dr. Rockman Ferrigno, who works at Hartford Hospital.

“My mom called him to consult him and he put a whole team together at Hartford because he felt it would be better for me to be up there,” said Clyne, a third-grade teacher. “They got me up there no problem and in the nick of time.

“My mom would call just to kind of get his opinion on what was going on because obviously this was all very new to me being 42 and young and healthy,” she said. “We weren’t expecting the severity of it.”

Clyne felt the pop while she was vacuuming. It was a complete surprise. “I kept a very strict diet,” she said. “I work out five days a week and never had a symptom up until the aneurysm.”

She said she appreciated how quickly she was transferred from the first hospital. “The fact that they were ready to save my life, because by the time I got to Hartford, the reason they moved so quickly is I was losing consciousness,” she said. “I was at that point critical and they recognized that immediately and that’s all I remember, just getting rushed to the OR.”

“When you present with this condition, the risk of dying from it within 24 hours is around 50%,” Ali said. “And there’s even a risk almost per hour in terms of a risk to life. So as soon as it’s identified, the key is to get to the operating room as quickly as possible.”

He said it becomes risky when a hospital doesn’t offer complex cardiac surgery. “In that case, you have to refer them to a center where this operation can be undertaken and then arrange for very expedient emergent transfer the patient,” he said.

“I think it’s a success story really about how you can coordinate care very quickly in our state and get patients the lifesaving treatment that they need,” Ali said. “And that relies on good communication between hospitals, between clinicians, between physicians. And at Hartford Hospital our transfer center I think is very widely recognized for being I think at the top of its game when it comes to allowing access to the complex services we provide.”

Ed Stannard can be reached at estannard@courant.com.