Foundation News

The Beat Goes on for the Wait Family

Charles V. “Charlie” Wait Jr. was a newborn in crisis, arriving in this world at Glens Falls Hospital in December 1981.

Delivered by C-section, it was apparent to the medical staff at the time that something was wrong. The hue of Charlie’s skin was bluish – a sign that the blood circulating through him was very low on oxygen.
The diagnosis: Transposition of the great arteries – a congenital heart defect where the two major vessels that carry blood away from the heart, the aorta and the pulmonary artery, are not positioned correctly. The condition causes blood to circulate incorrectly, bypassing the process by which the heart pumps blood to the lungs to oxygenate it before circulating it to the body.

“They immediately transferred him to Albany Medical Center for emergency open-heart surgery,” said Charlie’s father, Charles V. Wait, a renowned area civic leader and longtime president of the Saratoga Springs-based Adirondack Trust Company, a Capital Region institution founded in 1916.

Charles, now chairman of the bank, praised the quick work of the Glens Falls Hospital medical team as they ordered the transfer to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. At first, Charlie’s mother, Candace, was forced to stay behind to begin healing from the C-section.

Surgery involved placing a baffle in young Charlie’s heart, allowing surgeons to redirect and let oxygen-rich blood to flow. “The human heart is the size of a fist,” Charles said, marveling about the intricacy and precision that must be needed for this type of surgery on a newborn. “There were times when a baby would not survive this condition. We were so fortunate to have the skilled staff of Albany Medical Center in our community. And with the growth of the Albany Med Health System, this expertise is expanding throughout the region.”

Columbia Memorial Health, Glens Falls Hospital, and Saratoga Hospital are a part of the System with Albany Medical Center, meaning higher levels of care are more accessible in more places.
Charlie can only imagine the experience through the stories told by his mother and father: the long NICU stay, their nights sleeping by his side or on a couch in the hall, and the kindness and caring at the time of NICU physician Dr. Allan Geis and surgeon Dr. Eric Foster.

“It makes me feel fortunate that there was a sophisticated hospital nearby to do these types of procedures,’ Charlie said.

Charlie has degrees from Cornell University and NYU Law School, and after practicing law for two years in New York City Charlie joined his father in the family business. He is now president and CEO of the bank after a brief law career and then working his way up through the ranks.

“Because of the care he received at Albany Medical Center, he would not have survived,” Charles said. “Now he’s president of the bank.”

Charlie and his wife, Natalie, have two children, Charles, “Chip,” 7, and Anna, 5, who are healthy. When he looks back on the care he received in 1981 and again in early 1983 when a permanent surgical repair was performed, he said, “Without it I would have been in trouble. They saved my life. That’s hard to beat.”