The opening of a new hospital in Green Bay wasn’t the top news story in September of 2001. Yet, while the nation was still reeling from the loss of life in the 9/11 attacks, Aurora BayCare Medical Center was starting to save lives right here in Northeast Wisconsin.
Aurora Baycare opened its doors on September 25, 2001, just two weeks after the devastating September 11th attacks. It was a tough time for our country and frightening time for one local man who became Aurora BayCare’s first cardiac patient.
“This is the Packer room,” said Suamico’s Terry Amore, walking into a room in his basement that looks like it belongs in the Packers Pro Shop. To say Amore is good with his hands would be … well, an understatement.
“I build furniture, inside and out,” Amore explained. “I built them two buildings out back.”
Of course, he also built the “Packer Room” in his home.
“Up here is every game Brett Favre ever played,” Amore said, pointing to a row of VHS video tapes that spanned the length of the entire room.
But the architect of this ultimate Packer fan room almost got benched before he could even enjoy it.
“I was going up the steps and I got tired, ya know. I had to sit on the steps,” Amore explained.
Amore was 62 years old on that September day two decades ago; and it was nearly his last.
“I also remember how classic his symptoms were,” said Dr. Alexander Roitstein with Aurora BayCare, “and the severity of his disease.”
Roitstein is the cardiothoracic surgeon who treated Amore. He still remembers the night Amore came to the brand new hospital and not just his exertion angina diagnosis.
“He was super pleasant,” Roitstein recalled. “A gregarious kind of guy.”
Amore said he didn’t even know how to get to the new hospital or if they’d take his insurance. What he said he did know, right off the bat, was that he had come to the right place.
“I had four bypasses,” he explained. “My arteries were clogging up.”
As Aurora BayCare celebrates its 20th anniversary in the Green Bay community this month, Roitstein said what he’s most proud of is the care he and his colleagues have provided to patients.
“When you’ve been at a 20 year landmark, I think you’ve touched a lot of people professionally,” Roitstein said. “It gives you a sense of having done something valuable for others and I think, probably, that’s the single most important thing. That you’ve built a body of work that affects people positively, makes them live longer and live better.”
People like the now 82 year old, Terry Amore, who is still following doctor’s orders.
“I started walking a couple miles a morning,”.Amore said, adding a message for Dr. Roitstein and all the Aurora BayCare staff who helped save his life that fateful day back in 2001.
“Thank you doc, for everything that you did. You give me another 20 years and hopefully another 20,” Amore said. “So, I’m very grateful for that.”
In the two decades since Aurora BayCare opened their doors, they’ve become a leading hospital in Green Bay and in the nation. Aurora Baycare’s earned top accreditations in cardiology, breast cancer care and bariatric surgeries and is among the country’s ‘top 100 hospitals’ and ‘top 50 heart hospitals.’
“I think we, in Green Bay specifically, are luxuriating in access to healthcare that’s probably unrivaled,” Roitstein said.