Former Physician Returns to NKCH 50 Years Later for Life-Saving Treatment

Dr. Phil King holds a photo
of himself as an emergency
physician at NKCH in the
mid-1970s. He was an
orderly when the hospital
opened in 1958. Years later,
he would return to the same
hospital for a life-saving

Today, $4 won't buy a movie ticket. But in the early 1960s, $4 covered an office visit to doctors like Phil King. Dr. King started his medical career as an orderly at North Kansas City Hospital, shortly after it opened as a 100-bed hospital in 1958. He earned his medical degree and worked 14 years saving lives as a general practitioner and emergency physician on the hospital staff. Nearly 47 years later, Dr. King returned to North Kansas City Hospital, this time relying on other doctors to save his life.

Up until January 2005, Dr. King considered himself to be in good health. Both his parents lived into their 90s, and he expected to do the same. He quit smoking decades and, like many people, needed to lose a few pounds.

A trip to New York in January 2005 gave Dr. King his first clue that maybe he wasn't in such good health. He recalls feeling slight chest pain when he rushed to catch his flight or walked to reach the subway. "I didn't have a crushing feeling of chest pain, but I felt it was smart to see my doctor," says Dr. King.

To his surprise, tests revealed blockages in four of his coronary arteries. Bypass surgery, performed the day after his initial tests, rerouted grafts around the diseased arteries. "I would recommend to anyone, whether you're a doctor or layperson, don't ignore your symptoms even if they aren't severe," he says.

Dr. King acknowledges the medical advances that have helped physicians and patients. Diagnostic technology is one of the biggest changes he's seen in medicine. "In the early 1960s, it was difficult to see images on X-rays. Now, you have technology like CT scans and MRIs that provide beautiful images and help diagnose problems much quicker," he says.

Thanks to a quick diagnosis, his problem was identified and treated before he suffered a heart attack. He is glad he renewed his association with North Kansas City Hospital and fellow physicians when he needed this life-saving treatment.  

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