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St. Luke’s Dr. Frederick Costello: Stellar heart physician, spectacular stand-in babysitter

The Hernandez family, from Mountain Home, appreciated an act of kindness from St. Luke's cardiologist Dr. Frederick Costello.
By Chris Langrill, News and Community
January 26, 2021

Dr. Frederick Costello has built a reputation.

He is a respected St. Luke’s interventional cardiologist with an outstanding bedside manner.

This past holiday season, Dr. Costello extended that celebrated bedside manner – to the parking lot and sidewalks adjacent to St. Luke’s Boise Medical Center.

“As crazy as 2020 was, that was definitely a highlight of the year for us,” said Katherine Hernandez.

It happened when Hernandez and her husband, Gabriel Hernandez, met Dr. Costello during the most trying of circumstances.

“I was at work, and I had a heart attack,” said Gabriel, 33.

Following a consultation with Dr. Costello, Gabriel chose to have surgery.

“After I got out of surgery, the first thing I wanted to do was see my wife and kid,” Gabriel said.

Gabriel, Manny and Katherine Hernandez.

That wasn’t possible the day of the surgery.

“They were hoping to release him the next day, but Dr. Costello called me in the morning and said they wanted to keep Gabe for another night, just to be safe,” Katherine said.

It was an emotional blow for Katherine.

“We had just moved here in September, so Gabe and I hadn’t really had a chance to get to know anyone,” said Katherine, who along with her husband, works at Mountain Home Air Force Base. “We moved here, and a month and a half later, we had the baby."

Katherine couldn’t imagine being away from her husband, who had to be transported by ambulance to Boise.

“At that point, Dr. Costello offered to come in on his day off and watch our son, so I could spend a little time with Gabe,” Katherine said. “I’m going to start crying just thinking about it.

“It just restores your faith in humanity. We didn’t have anyone to watch our son, and I just wanted to see Gabe so badly. It was just the nicest thing anyone has ever done for us.”

It was, indeed, an extraordinary act of kindness. Dr. Costello, however, views it a bit differently.

“Part of it was that Gabe and Katherine are so young, and they both expressed to me that it was difficult being on their own,” Dr. Costello said.

“And then, you know, it was a couple days before Christmas, and it’s been a really hard year. It’s been one of the hardest years of my life, and to be able to give back a little bit to them made me feel a little better about my life.”

And so, one very overqualified babysitter spent an hour bonding with 6-week-old Manny Hernandez outside the hospital.

Dr. Frederick Costello took this selfie with 6-week-old Manny Hernandez to share with Manny's parents, Gabriel and Katherine Hernandez. "He sent me this great selfie and said, 'Thank you for allowing me to spend some time with Manny,'" Katherine Hernandez said. "I was just like, 'Why are you thanking me? I should be thanking you.'"

“I love kids,” said Dr. Costello, who has two children, Peter, 14, and Paige, 10. “I put (Manny) in a stroller, but I didn’t want to get too far away (from Katherine), so I stayed pretty much around the Anderson Building and the main hospital and cruised up and down that area.

“(Katherine) had given me a bottle, and unfortunately at one point he got a little fussy, so I had to actually feed him the bottle.

“That actually did create a little angst because I hadn’t done a bottle feed in a decade,” Dr. Costello recalled. “But he’s a sweet little boy.”

After spending an hour with her husband, Katherine came back down to look for her son and Dr. Costello.

“When I came down and went outside, he was just kind of power-walking with Manny in the stroller,” Katherine said. “He was just doing laps out in front of the hospital.”

It wasn’t hard for Katherine to form an opinion about Dr. Costello.

“He’s not just a great doctor,” she said. “He’s a great and amazing human being.”  

Dawn Aiken concurs with Katherine Hernandez’s sentiment. Aiken has known Dr. Costello for about 10 years, and she has been his nurse practitioner for the past three years.

“I was excited to have the opportunity to get to work directly for him,” Aiken said. “He’s just such a good cardiologist, not only because of his skill but also because of how much he cares.”

Aiken said she is constantly awed by Dr. Costello and the compassion he shows, not only to his patients but also to fellow St. Luke’s staff members.

“I’ve been on the back end and I’ve seen him in the office after he’s gone 72 hours with no sleep,” Aiken said. “And then to watch him when someone walks in the door and he just smiles like you’re the only person in the world. It just takes a big person to do that.

“He’s one of the best, best people I know in this world. He’s a good man.”

Turns out, he is also a pretty good babysitter.

About The Author

Chris Langrill is a writer and copy editor for the St. Luke’s Communications and Marketing department.