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Seeing double at the Frankel CVC

Twins enjoy "comical confusion"

Mike (left) and Paul Ranella blog

Mike and Paul Ranella

Patients and employees at the U-M Frankel Cardiovascular Center often think they’re seeing double … but it’s likely they’re seeing just fine.

That’s because the CVC is “home” to three sets of identical twins:

  • Mike Ranella is the CVC program manager and his brother Paul Ranella is a CVC device nurse.
  • Corey Foster and Ben Foster are both 4th year medical students who recently completed their rotations at the CVC.
  • Courtney Clark and Rachel Scheich are both nurse practitioners in the CVC ICU.

The six agree that things get confusing at times — mainly in a humorous kind of way. Mike Ranella describes it as “fun confusion” when someone passes him and moments later sees his brother on another floor.  Perplexed looks and comments like, “Didn’t I just see you?” are common, he says.

Then there’s the confusion when one of Paul’s patients wants to talk to Mike about a medical issue. “They often feel compelled to share health information, even when they realize I’m not Paul.” Some patients have even given Mike a hug, he admits. “My brother is well liked, which is a good thing. I’d much rather get a hug from one of his patients than a hit,” he jokes.

Making the rounds

Corey (left) and Ben Foster Twins 2 blog

Corey and Ben Foster

Corey and Ben Foster experienced similar mix-ups, although the two were assigned to different areas of the CVC during rotations to avoid confusion.

The young men from Pennsylvania originally considered splitting up for medical school, but when both were accepted to U-M, they decided to stay together. “U-M offered the best opportunities for both of us, so it was an easy decision,” says Corey.

The two have been mixed up in their clinical evaluations, but since both had good reports, neither seemed to mind. They even got the same score on their first quiz in medical school, so things “started off funny,” says Corey.

Sometimes, the students admit to going along with their mistaken identity, sharing necessary information with the intended recipient at the end of the day. “Our family members are the only ones who can tell us apart,” Corey says.

A daily dose of double takes

Courtney and Rachel blog

Rachel Scheich and Courtney Clark

The bubbly personalities of Courtney Clark and Rachel Scheich make mix-ups all the more common in the CVC ICU. And it doesn’t help that the two often show up for work wearing similar outfits and colors. The twin nurse practitioners have a lot of stories to share, including the new cardiologist who didn’t realize there were two of them for a full year. And the daily conversations with patients that are interrupted with one twin admitting, “I’m the other one.”

The two took different paths to obtaining their nursing degrees, but ended up working in the U-M Frankel Cardiovascular Center because it was a good fit for both, they say.

A favorite story was a new fellow who didn’t realize Courtney and Rachel were actually two people until she saw them sitting side by side at a work desk. After doing the double take that Courtney and Rachel have become all too accustomed to, “The fellow asked if she could have her picture taken with us,” Courtney says. And then there’s the patient who suggested Courtney wasn’t getting enough sleep, mistakenly thinking she had worked the entire weekend before realizing there were two nurses working opposite shifts.

Despite their identical appearance, there’s one simple way to tell them apart, says Courtney: “I’m the one with the wedding ring.”


Frankel-informal-vertical-sigThe University of Michigan Samuel and Jean Frankel Cardiovascular Center is a top-ranked heart and heart surgery program among Michigan hospitals. To learn more, visit our website at umcvc.org.