Transport yourself to Manhattan’s Bryant Park on a Wednesday night this July and August. You will see 75 accordionists, entertaining visitors with a mix of music from Germany, Ireland, Columbia, Brazil, the Balkans and Louisiana. Among the players for the inaugural kick-off to this season’s Accordions Around the World is Earl Ball.
Now transport yourself to a Polish neighborhood in Buffalo, N.Y, in the 1950’s. You will see “Early” as a ten year-old learning to play a polka.
Finally, transport yourself to downtown Easton, Ball’s stomping ground. His accordion has brought him fame at the Easton Farmers’ Market and Movies at the Mill, where a 2013 film about him won Best of Show.
It’s a skill he loves sharing with people, including patients. Ball often played for patients in the hospital where he worked. “They really respond to it,” he says. “It was something they needed to stay connected with the world.”
At a hospital in Bucks County for 19 years, Ball created and supervised a chaplaincy program. An ordained minister in the United Church of Christ, Ball found that being beside the sickbed was most rich experience. So he entered a Clinical Pastoral Education class at Easton Hospital in 1991 which led him to a full program, residency and, eventually, a program directorship.
“I see Easton Hospital as the foundation of my career,” Ball says. “So it seems fitting that they would also serve as the foundation of my cardiac care.”
Ball was at the local library when he felt pressure in his chest. “It felt like heartburn,” he says.
At the Easton Hospital Emergency Department, his EKG and blood work were both normal, but the doctor had Ball remain monitored.
Moments later, the pain shot up his chest into his neck and the EKG became erratic.
“The ER nurse came in and said, ‘We’re going to make things happen fast,” he recalls.
Most hospitals aim for the national benchmark of 90 minutes from the time a patient presents with a cardiac episode until the moment a blocked artery is cleared. Easton Hospital averages less than 60 minutes.
Minutes later Ball was in the Catheterization Lab. He had two blockages. Cardiologist Joseph Schiavone, M.D., an independent member of the medical staff, placed two sents in one artery.
To encouraging healing, the doctor wanted Ball to wait a month before clearing the other blockage, but two weeks later, Ball’s chest pressure returned.
Again, he returned to the ER and was transported immediately to the Cath Lab where Dr. Schiavone placed two sents in the second artery.
Transport yourself to today. Earl feels great.
“My blood work looks good and my cholesterol is better,” he says. “I’ve been given a clean bill of health.”
Ball thanked Dr. Schiavone at a recent visit. “I told him he saved my life,” Ball says. “And he said humbly ‘That’s my job.’”
“I was so impressed by him and the care at Easton,” Ball says. “They treated me royally.”
Ball was comforted to have his husband Tim Hare by his side the entire time. “The staff was so welcoming of him,” Ball says. “They were so professional and respectful.”
“It made me so proud to think I started my career 25 years ago at Easton Hospital,” he says.
Soon you may transport yourself to the hospital and catch the mellifluous sound of an accordion serenade filling the halls with joy and polka.
250 South 21st Street
Easton, PA 18042-3892