Concern is growing among cardiac rehabilitation patients over continuing rumours that programs offered for them in White Rock by Fraser Health will either be cancelled or cut back.
But a Fraser Health spokesperson told Peace Arch News that, rather than contemplating closing or curtailing programs, the authority is actually studying ways by which to shorten waiting lists for new patients who need them.
Some 266 people currently participate in cardiac rehab programs at Horst and Emmy Werner Centre For Active Living in Centennial Park.
On Oct. 6 a petition signed by 126 of them – asking for more information and discussion of potential changes – was sent to Fraser Health president and CEO Victoria Lee. Among those copied on the petition and cover letter were Fraser Health staff and board members, Peace Arch Hospital staff members and foundation executive, then-MP Gordon Hogg, MLA Tracy Redies, BC health minister Adrian Dix and all members of Surrey and White Rock councils.
On Monday night cardiac event survivor Edward Gilbert – one of those who signed the petition – appeared at White Rock council’s question-and-answer period to follow up on whether there had been any answers from Fraser Health.
“We’re very concerned because, in our estimation, we’ve had nothing communicated to us,” he told them.
After hearing from city CAO Dan Bottrill that “we’re very concerned about the possibility that we might be losing the program(s),” council unanimously passed a motion by Coun. Helen Fathers to write a letter to Fraser Health seeking more information on the future of the classes.
Bottrill added he had a scheduled meeting with Fraser Health this week and that he should be able to provide more information in a report to council.
Fraser Health currently offers two main cardio rehab programs at the Centre For Active Living, Dixon Tam, Fraser Health senior public affairs consultant, noted.
An initial 16-week program for patients who have just had a cardiac event is designed to evaluate diet and lifestyle choices and aimed at making patients more self-sufficient. A volunteer maintenance program – for people who feel they need more assistance and support – is also offered, but again with an ultimate goal of self-sufficiency, he said.
Most of the 266 active participants are currently in this program option, he said.
“The cardiac rehabilitation program is under review at this time,” Tam told PAN.
“We are looking for opportunities to shorten wait times to ensure access for new clients that would benefit from this, as well as ways to support current clients that enjoy this program.”
But Gilbert – who told council he’d been revived after being “dead for six minutes” following a sudden cardiac event while playing hockey – said that he and other patients have formed a committee that is continuing to seek detailed answers from Fraser Health.
“My concern is that this program, which is highly successful, is being threatened,” he said.
“If you were me, if this was part of your prescription, if this affected your health, or your son’s, your daughter’s, your wife’s, your husband, your grandfather, your grandmother, I think you’d want to know that Fraser Health is keeping them informed on the issue.
“To date, we have had nothing. They have the information, they know what they’re going to do. It’s time for them to share it with us.”