For theater major Dakota Vassen, life as a senior felt loaded with stress and moved far too fast. Little did the 23-year-old UW Platteville student know, the source of those feelings was likely a medical one that lied deep within him. Literally, in his heart.
One day in the middle of his busy last semester, it all bubbled to the surface, besieged his body, and created a day of drama the aspiring young actor and playwright will not soon forget.
“My throat was sore for a few days,” recalls Dakota, “But I had lots of sore throats as a child and wasn’t worried. I was in a play at the time, and since there were so many of us in close quarters, a lot of people in my cast were getting sick. I figured I was coming down with strep.”
“The day it all happened, I woke up, and I couldn’t even swallow. I realized this isn’t what my roommates have.” So, he came to Student Health Services (SHS) on the UW Platteville campus where Southwest Health’s medical practitioners provide essential health care students need away from home.
This was Dakota’s first visit to SHS in his four years at UW Platteville. Family physician Anna Svircev, DO, had recently joined the team at Southwest Health, where she practices at the Platteville Clinic. Thanks to our partnership with UW Platteville, she also sees patients on campus at SHS. Which was good news for Dakota.
“Our nurse Lois [Dietzel] saw Dakota first and noticed it wasn’t a routine sore throat,” says Dr. Anna. “She was right. He had a peritonsillar abscess, which is a dangerous infection. Even more alarming, his heart was in atrial fibrillation (afib), and that’s very unusual for someone so young. Fortunately, he wasn’t also having shortness of breath or chest pain. Nevertheless, we sent Dakota immediately to the ER at Southwest Health where we could better assess and treat his conditions.”
“I feel a whole lot better today,” says Dakota. “Life just moves a little slower now, and I seem to take things a little easier. It’s been a year or more since the last time I felt this way, this calm and relaxed. With my afib everything seemed to move at 100 miles an hour. I feel better now than I have in a long time.”
“We can’t say whether the abscess and the afib are related. Reality is, we don’t know how long Dakota had been in afib.” Later in the day, Dakota was transferred to another facility for cardioversion (see side bar) to correct his irregular heart rhythm.
“If I hadn’t come to the clinic first,” insists Dakota, “I don’t know what would have happened. Dr. Anna treats you like a real person and made me feel cared for. You could just tell she had experience. At that point, I knew I was at the right place.”
Dakota has since graduated and is off pursuing plans for a successful career in acting. “I also love writing. I plan on doing some play writing, too, and later get into directing.”
To all students, Dakota offers this message: “If you’re not feeling well, and you have any reason to see a doctor, trust that instinct.”
Anna Svircev, DO, MPH
Her caring personality and experience make Dr. Anna a big hit among her patients. Originally from Middleton, she performed her undergraduate work at UW-Madison and earned a Masters of Public Health in Behavioral Science and Health Education at Emory University, Rollins School of Public Health in Atlanta, GA. She then earned a Doctor of Osteopathy (DO) from Midwestern University, Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine in Glendale, AZ. She performed both her internship and residency in Family Medicine at the University of Colorado in Aurora, CO as well as an advanced Fellowship in Adolescent Medicine at Children’s Hospital Colorado, where she held positions as Senior Instructor and Assistant Professor in the Department of Family Medicine. She is certified by the American Board of Family Medicine and comes to Southwest Health with broad experience in treating patients of all ages.
View Dr. Anna’s video profile at southwesthealth.org/DoctorAnna