Mike Lyons sat up in his Lehigh Valley Hospital (LVH)–Muhlenberg Hospital bed and looked over the man dressed neatly in a blazer and tie who had just entered his room. Who the heck is this guy, he wondered?
“Hi Mike, I’m Pat Toselli, (DO), Chief Medical Officer here at LVH–Muhlenberg,” the man told him before quickly realizing something was wrong.
“I was in the wrong room,” Toselli says. “We were doing what we call Executive Rounding where (LVH–Muhlenberg President) Bob Begliomini and I visit some patients who are about to go home. I got the room number mixed up and ended up in Mike’s room by accident.”
Rather than sheepishly withdrawing from the mistake, Toselli found himself speaking with Lyons for more than an hour.
“It was like we were old friends,” says the 79-year-old Lyons, who handles corporate and community partnerships for the Worcester Red Sox, the class Triple A East minor league affiliate of the Boston Red Sox. “We started talking about our grandchildren, about baseball. We just hit it off.”
Lyons said his positive interaction with Toselli was indicative of his two-week stay at the hospital.
“Everybody I came in contact with couldn’t have been nicer,” Lyons says. “The level of care they give patients there is unbelievable. Let me tell you, I was pretty scared going in.”
Start of a health emergency
Lyons and his wife, Hillary, were traveling from Worcester to Bethlehem to visit daughter Kelly and her family for the Easter holidays when he found himself having difficulty swallowing. The problem seemed to be getting worse when they arrived.
“Kelly took one look at me and immediately took me to the LVH–Muhlenberg emergency room,” Lyons says. “They admitted me pretty quickly. I have some immune system problems and I would experience some complications in the first few days.”
Hospital medicine physician Adam Marish, DO, and ear, nose and throat specialist Andrew Pestcoe, DO, would handle Lyons’ case. A salivary glands infection would eventually land him in the intensive care unit for a time.
“We considered surgical intervention at first, but we decided to treat Mike non-operatively and monitor him,” Toselli says. “I’m sure being in a strange place and being unable to swallow for a time is a scary proposition for anyone. But we treated his symptoms, and he came through it very well.”
Thankful for exceptional care
Lyons was so happy with his care and the warmth of his caregivers during his difficult moments that he wanted to give back. The Red Sox contacted fellow Triple A East member, the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, who offered to have a special night for the LVH–Muhlenberg staff members who took care of Lyons.
“It was a great night,” says Lyons of the May 25 event at Coca-Cola Park in Allentown. “Dr. Marish and Dr. Pestcoe got to throw out the first pitch (an emergency at the hospital forced Toselli to arrive too late for first pitch). The IronPigs were very gracious, hosting us in a suite on top of the honor on the field. It was a special night I won’t forget.”
That night, Toselli finally told Lyons that if things had gone as planned, they may never have met. As it turns out, a friendship was born. Toselli and Lyons exchanged cell numbers and stay in touch.
“I tried to tell Mike that the level of care we gave him is the same care we give everyone, that there was no need to thank us,” Toselli says. “But Mike wanted to do it. Maybe it’s a good thing to tell a story such as this one, so people know we are always here for them. It’s our goal that everybody goes home feeling the way Mike did.”