Burns Beach resident’s heart scare a reminder for others not to ignore the signs

Melissa Bertolini and Jules Smart from Medibank with Charnay Finlayson (middle). Picture: Martin Kennealey d475967
Melissa Bertolini and Jules Smart from Medibank with Charnay Finlayson (middle). Picture: Martin Kennealey d475967

A ROUTINE trip to make a dental healthcare claim turned into a heart scare and hospital visit for a Burns Beach resident recently.

Charnay Finlayson (53) visited her healthcare provider’s store in Joondalup on September 27 to make a claim after her daughter had her wisdom teeth removed.

“The night before I had a little bit of pain in my chest,” she said.

Mrs Finlayson said she didn’t make an appointment to see a doctor because she “needed to get a whole lot of things done”.

She said when she went into the Medibank Private store that morning the pain became “sharp and severe”.

“It was taking my breath away,” she said.

Her uncertain response to a casual “how are you” raised alarm bells for customer service officer Melissa Bertolini, who persuaded Mrs Finlayson to go with her to a nearby pharmacy.

There, a blood pressure test revealed her normally low heart rate was “sky high”.

An ambulance was called and took her to hospital, where tests showed she did not have a blockage and the doctor said she had costochondritis in the cartilage where ribs join the breastbone.

“There was an inflammation in my chest area,” Mrs Finlayson said.

“The cartilage was inflamed on the left side; it was pressing against the heart muscle.

“It was very fortunately not a heart attack but they had to bring the inflammation down (and) gave me some strong anti-inflammatories.”

Mrs Finlayson said in retrospect she was shocked at her initial response of “I will just go home and lie down a bit” to suggestions she needed an ambulance.

“I’m so used to just pressing through things; saying ‘it’ll be right’,” she said.

“I didn’t want it to be something serious; I didn’t want to go off in an ambulance and have all that attention drawn to me.

“I never will leave chest pain again; when I look back I’m a little bit horrified at what I was planning to do.”

Her advice to others was to get chest pain checked out by medical professionals immediately.

Mrs Finlayson said the staff, including Jules Smart, who helped were caring and professional and Mrs Bertolini said the experience had made them “friends for life”.

“When you experience that, it definitely makes you close,” she said.

Mrs Bertolini said when her customer started to “go quite grey” they called the ambulance and were directed on what to do as first responders.

She said the experience made her realise how important first aid training was, even in an office environment.

“You need to know a lot more than just checking someone’s heart rate,” she said.

Medibank customer channels general manager Mark Brownfield said the company was proud of the way staff helped the customer.

“While Medibank doesn’t provide formal first aid training to our retail store employees, our staff are provided with opportunities to learn and develop throughout the year,” he said.

“First aid training is one of the options available to interested staff members, with a number of courses available.”

MORE: State Govt drops Indian Ocean Drive speed limit based on road safety review

MORE: Catalina Waste Management Program converting building waste into useful supplies

MORE: Father charged after allegedly feeding his four-month-old daughter meth