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Cardiac rehab centre now open at Picton Clinic

At the grand opening celebration of the new PEFHT Cardiac Rehabilitation Centre are (front) Cattlemen’s Association members Tina Hiddink, John Baitley, Lynn and Sue Leavitt and (back) Leo Finnegan, Duff Sprague, Todd Smith and PEFHT members Dr. Greg Higgins, NP Carol Hobbs, Dr. Elizabeth Christie, Dr. Cliff Rice, and Dr. Kim Haigh.

Prince Edward County’s physicians hope you never have to use the state-of-the-art exercise equipment now set up in the new Cardiac Rehabilitation Centre at the Picton Clinic. But it’s good news for cardiac patients who no longer have to drive to Kingston to participate in the 12-week program.

The Prince Edward Family Health Team (PEFHT) formally opened the PEACH (Prince Edward Ambulatory Cardiac Health) rehab centre where patients re-gain their strength after heart surgery or work through high risk problems by adopting healthier lifestyles.

“This is an exciting day for us and the Prince Edward County Family Health Team,” said Dr. Elizabeth Christie, president of the PEFHT. “We’re very proud of this initiative and the marvellous results we have seen. Cardiac rehabilitation is one of the interventions that we can make in people with serious heart disease that is solidly proven to provide very positive health benefits.”
She noted cardiac rehabilitation centres are few and far between and before the opening of Picton’s facility, people we required to drive to Kingston, but few were able to make the trip – especially in the winter.

Christie thanked a number of participants who helped to make the centre happen including its medical directors, Dr. Phil Wattam and Dr. Steve Blanchard and RN Mary Stever for going above and beyond to ensure the quality of the facility and PEFHT’s executive director Duff Sprague.

MPP Todd Smith with Lynn Leavitt of the the Cattlemen’s Association; Irene Collyer, of Wellington, Fran Donaldson, of the PECMH Auxiliary; Mayor Peter Mertens and PEFHT President Dr. Elizabeth Christie after the unveiling of the donor wall outside the new centre at Picton Clinic.

The centre was funded through a public campaign by the Prince Edward Cattlemen’s Association which raised $70,000 for equipment in the centre; a contribution of about $20,000 from the Prince Edward County Memorial Hospital Auxiliary which covered the cost and installation of special flooring and a significant private donation from Irene Collyer in memory of her husband Fred, used for the new windows and wall at the front of the centre.

Noting the Cattlemen’s Association raised $70,000 rather than the $50,000 they aimed for in their year-long fundraising project, Christie said “that accomplishment speaks volumes for not only of the dedication of the association, but also of the people of this community. I want to make a big thank you to all the people who participated in the various fundraising events, who bought pies for $700, who gave to the cattlemen, and to all of the physicians of Prince Edward County who banded together to donate $10,000 to the campaign by purchasing Sid the celebrity steer” at the cattlemen’s anniversary fundraiser at the Picton Fair.
She also thanked the Ministry of Health to staff the program and the South East Community Care Access Centre for providing physiotherapy staff and services.

A team of healthcare professionals supports the program.  After a doctor’s referral, participants are first contacted by Community Support Planner Wanda Parks.  They are then screened by doctors Wattam or Blanchard, Cathy Brose, registered nurse, and Carol-Anne Gray, physiotherapist. After determining each participant’s target heart rate, an individualized exercise prescription is set up for aerobic training, strength and flexibility.  All participants are closely monitored during each session by the RN, and physio.  Education is also provided by various members of the Family Health Team and the Cardiac Rehab team.  So far, 20 people have finished the 12-week program and a new session will begin in February. Those who require less supervision will continue to use the facilities at the Prince Edward Aquatic and Fitness Centre.

“We are fortunate in this community to have a very forward-thinking family health team,” said Dr. Wattam, who led the creation of the PEACH program with Dr. Blanchard. “If it’s not the best in the province, it’s one of the best… I knew the project would be a big undertaking, bigger than anyone anticipated at the get-go. But it has come together. We know that exercise is a major factor in good health… Our next challenge is to get the funding to expand the program so we can enrol all the people who need to be enrolled. We have the capacity to do a whole lot more and need to make it go full force forward.”

PECMH Auxiliary President Fran Donaldson noted her membership was pleased to support the project upon hearing details from Dr. Whattam last year and upon hearing from the personal experience of member Barbara Fairburn who travelled to Kingston to take part in the cardiac program.

“She made a motion that the auxiliary should support the project and we agreed,” said Donaldson, noting they have put aside a bit  more money than they had asked for. We recognize that health care services are not only in the hospital and our mandate is to support health care services in the community so we have been, and will continue to be involved in these kinds of projects.”

County Mayor Peter Mertens told the crowd he is always impressed with how the community comes forward in support, especially when it comes to health care.
“I’m sure I speak for the community when I say we have an immense amount of pride for the Family Health Team. This is a huge move forward in terms of health care in Prince Edward. Also like to extend thanks to the supporters, the community partners who support all these activities. I’ve never been anywhere that there has been such an outpouring of support for all the things that happen here especially if it’s for the medical community.”

Prince Edward MPP Todd Smith also offered his congratulations, noting that healthy communities reduce the strain on the health care system and ultimately reduce costs.
“If we can keep people healthy, that’s what it’s all about…It’s about keeping our community healthy and hopefully we don’t need to get into the hospital if we keep ourselves in a healthy state.”

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