Whitby resident says cardiac services gave her back her life

Cardiac Care Programs delivering needed services across the region

Betty Francisco feels alive these days when just a few months ago she thought she was dying.

The Whitby resident now takes 30-minute walks while before she was winded after ten minutes.

Today, Francisco navigates the stairs in her home, ignoring the stair-lift chair she purchased unless she’s carrying a heavy package.

That because Franciso is now participating in a cardiovascular rehabilitation program, offered by the Central East Regional Cardiac Care Program – Scarborough-Durham at the Abilities Centre in Whitby.

It’s a follow-up aspect of her treatment after the cardiac event that landed her in Rouge Valley Health System’s (RVHS) Centenary hospital in October 2013 and she credits the cardiovascular rehab program for her recovery

“Three months ago I thought, ‘I’m old. I’m going to die. I have a bad heart,’” Francisco recalls.

“Now I know I can do it. I’m stronger. I can breathe. I’m 100 per cent better than when I first started (rehab) and I’m not so scared.”

“Scarborough and Durham patients can benefit from having more of the life-saving and life-changing cardiac services they need available here in their community,” says Dr. Joe Ricci, program chief of cardiology at RVHS, in a news release. “When it comes to improving the quality of your heart health, the regional program is here to help.”

The program provides patients with access to leading cardiac services and state-of-the-art equipment.

While RVHS is the designated cardiac care centre for the program, the initiative is delivered in partnership with The Scarborough Hospital, Lakeridge Health and the Central East Local Health Integration Network.

The regional program delivers a wide range of cardiac services, including life-saving cardiac catheterization and intervention procedures, arrhythmia studies and management, in addition to cardiovascular rehab.

In the northeastern area of the Central East LHIN, cardiac rehabilitation services are available at Ross Memorial Hospital in Lindsay. They are also available through the Peterborough Regional Health Centre (PRHC) and Northumberland Hills Hospital (NHH) in partnership with Kawartha Cardiology.

PRHC also offers full cardiac catheterization services to patients living in an area expanding from east Durham Region to Kingston and as far north as Algonquin Park. Like their colleagues at Rouge Valley, PRHC’s services include angioplasty, angiograms and code STEMI, which is emergency cardiac angioplasty for patients having an acute heart attack.

Code STEMI is a partnership with EMS services which allows patients to bypass their local emergency department and head straight to a designated hospital, explains Arnel Schiratti, PRHC's director of strategic communications and engagement.

For both Rouge Valley and PRHC the door-to-balloon time -- the average time from arrival at the patient's door to the time the balloon is inserted into the patient's artery -- is 90 minutes.

The Central East LHIN is currently implementing its third Integrated Health Service Plan (IHSP), setting out a shared goal for the local health care system to help Central East LHIN residents spend more time in their homes and their communities.

Vascular health is a concern across Canada. Together with hospitals and community agencies from across Scarborough, Durham Region and the North East cluster, the LHIN is actively working on the “Community First – Vascular Aim”.

For more information on cardiovascular services available in your communities, please speak to your primary care provider or contact your local hospital or community agency. 

Submitted by Natalie Hamilton, Axiom News.  To contact Natalie, please email natalie@axiomnews.ca.