Mark Thornton appreciates a little levity, even in the most serious of circumstances.

After diagnosing a blockage in his left coronary artery in 2008, Thornton says the Sparrow cardiac team quickly allayed his fears and made him feel comfortable. "They were great at keeping me loose," he says.

Mid-Michigan's leading heart team understands the importance of involving patients in their care – answering questions, listening, treating each one like family. Thornton described his cardiologist, Todd Hickox, D.O., as "down to earth and funny."

Thornton, a builder who lives in Ovid, had been experiencing breathing problems and shooting pains when his wife took him to the emergency room at Sparrow Clinton Hospital. He was transported to the main Sparrow Campus in Lansing, where a catheterization revealed the blockage and a stent was installed to open the artery.

Thornton takes his cardiac recovery seriously, regularly biking up to 10 miles at a time, and says he looks at things differently since his heart episode. But he's kept his sense of humor, along with his appreciation for the life-saving care he received from Sparrow.

"I wanted to go to Sparrow because they're more versatile there," says Thornton, now 46. "Time was of the essence. Plus, both of my children were born there."