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Centre for Pulmonary Rehabilitation in North Bay expands free services


The Centre for Pulmonary Rehabilitation, which operates out of the Village at Canadore College, is expanding pulmonary rehabilitation services for patients in North Bay and surrounding areas.

“Rehabilitation services will now be offered both virtually or in-person,” the centre said in a news release Friday, “and will feature the same exercises and educational programs to improve muscle strength and respiratory management for patients with stable chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a common lung disease causing restricted airflow and breathing problems.

“The expanded services will be available to patients free of charge.”

A survey by Health Quality Ontario showed a severe shortage in pulmonary rehabilitation resources in the province.

“Currently, only one to two per cent of COPD patients in Ontario have access to pulmonary rehabilitation,” Dr. Maya DeZoysa, respirologist and director of pulmonary rehabilitation at the centre, said in a news release.

“Considering how much of an impact pulmonary rehabilitation can have on breathing and improving symptoms for those with COPD, increasing the availability in North Bay is significant.”

The Centre has been providing pulmonary rehabilitation services locally for 18 years, but a lack of funding has made it challenging to meet community needs.

A recent collaboration between the CPR and the Nipissing Wellness Ontario Health Team is behind the expansion of pulmonary rehabilitation to include both virtual and community-based programs.

Both are eight-week programs with two sessions per week.

"Nipissing Wellness Ontario Health Team is committed to enhancing access to best practice care for all who live with chronic conditions such as COPD,” Wendy Smith, executive lead, transformation and strategy, said in the release.

“Rehabilitation is a non-invasive self-management approach to COPD that has been proven to enhance quality of life.”

“As a collective, organizations within NWOHT are working together with Ontario Health and the Ministry of Health to provide the resources necessary to improve the lives of our local population. This is one of many initiatives that we have embarked on together, and we look forward to continued opportunities to support our local community,” Smith added.

“Most patients who are referred for pulmonary rehabilitation have a hard time walking, even for five minutes,” said Tammy Draper, the centre’s president.

“Most are unsure of how to manage during a flare up or they don’t understand what COPD is; they are only told that they have it. We empower the patient with 12 hours of education and strengthening, helping to reduce the symptoms of COPD.”

“Most people with COPD have had to give up things they love such as hunting, fishing, walking with their grandkids, or simply bringing their garbage out to the curb. Pulmonary rehabilitation helps them regain their confidence,” Draper said.

“The program helps me to have the confidence to leave my home and manage my breathing,” said Anita Rheume, a virtual rehabilitation patient.

“I’ve learned how to breathe properly and go for walks without being so short of breath. I’ve learned about my COPD and how to manage it. I wish I had this sooner, and others with COPD could take advantage of it.”

“Clinics like the Centre for Pulmonary Rehabilitation are the reason we created The Village in the first place,” said Canadore President and CEO George Burton.

“To provide practical experience for our students and much-needed healthcare for our communities.”

The Village is a health and wellness training facility at Canadore College. A unique model in Canada, the facility focuses on collaborative inter-professional education and the integration of Indigenous, Eastern, and Western healing and wellness practices.

Students in Canadore’s Human Care, Health Science and Social Services, and Sport and Recreation programs are learning there and getting practical experience in clinics like CPR.

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