A Legacy Built on Helping Others
“Omar” had nowhere to turn. While playing soccer, he had cardiac arrest from a congenital heart issue called Brugada syndrome. The condition is rare, life-threatening, and treated with an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator to treat irregular heart rhythms that are often fatal. A self-employed granite and cabinet installer, Omar didn’t have health insurance to help with ongoing care.
He did have access to The Health Partnership Clinic, a free clinic that provides access for individuals with cardiac devices, providing specialized cardiac care established by Dr. Tony Anno, an acute care nurse practitioner, specialist in cardiac devices and electrophysiology, and graduate-turned-faculty-member at Walden. Dr. Anno was able to secure a defibrillator for Omar and has cared for him through his volunteer work with the clinic for over a decade.
“The work that I’m able to do with the device clinic is largely thanks to Walden and the Doctor of Nursing Practice program,” says Dr. Anno. “In order to add this service offering at the Health Partnership clinic, I needed a different skill set, and that’s when I started looking at the DNP. This experience has afforded me the ability to care for Omar and other patients like him.”
Dr. Anno based his doctoral study, “The Creation of a Pacemaker Clinic at a Federally-Funded Patient-Centered Medical Home: A Quality Improvement Project,” on research he conducted to support the establishment of such a clinic. The purpose of Dr. Anno’s research was to determine the number of individuals who have had a medical device implanted without insurance coverage over a 3-year period, and then to develop a clinic that provides this service. Through his volunteer work with The Health Partnership Clinic, Dr. Anno continues to positively impact lives today.
“What gives me the greatest joy is being able to bring these services to a population that otherwise would not have access,” he says.
In 2014, shortly after graduating, Dr. Anno went from student to faculty member in the same Acute Care Nurse Practitioner program he graduated from. He describes his teaching style as being one that acknowledges the importance of curriculum, but also ties in social responsibility and real-world implications.
“You can’t be committed to being on top of cutting-edge changes if you’re not doing it yourself,” says Dr. Anno. “You don’t have to look very far to find hurting people who you can help. Within acute care, you have a real opportunity to touch people’s lives.”
His influence doesn’t stop at his students. Dr. Anno’s son, Joshua, graduated from Walden with his Master of Science in Nursing with an acute care specialization in 2019. He now teaches alongside his father in the College of Nursing as a clinical instructor.
When acknowledging his son following in his footsteps, Dr. Anno couldn’t be more excited for Joshua and future generations to come. “There’s no better place for them to follow the legacy of education than at Walden."
Dr. Tony Anno (second from right) accepts the Presidential Faculty Excellence Award from (left to right) Dr. Sue Subocz, associate president and provost; Dr. Anita McDonald, board of directors member; and Toni Freeman, board of directors chair.
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