Celebrating Allied Health Professionals


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SUPPLEMENT TO THE FREE PRESS • SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 5, 2022 3 Celebrating Allied Health Professionals Cardiac rehab program pivots during pandemic Kinesiologists bring cardiac care closer to home By Anya Nazeravich W hen kinesiologist Dustin Kim- ber hosts an ice-breaking ex- ercise with his clients, it isn't to learn about their favourite movie or most recent vacation. Kimber's goal during these sessions is to get to know new clients from the inside out, be- ginning with their heart. More specifically, Kimber wants to hear about his clients' cardiac history; whether a heart attack, surgical procedure or diag- nosis has led them to his Portage la Prai- rie area cardiac rehabilitation program. "The support of a group of people who have all experienced a similar event can be really comforting," Kimber says. "We knew there was a need for programming that offered both support and rehab ser- vices for people living outside of Winni- peg. Our goal was to allow clients to build back strength so they could regain — and then maintain — activities in their own communities." Established in 2019, the education and exercise-based program Kimber sup- ports, alongside a team of health-care professionals, allows people of all ages who have experienced a cardiac event to receive rehabilitation services closer to home. The program provides participants with access to a kinesiologist (Kimber), as well as a cardiac nurse, social worker and dietitian, as well as all fitness facilities at Portage la Prairie's Stride Place over the course of the six-week program — all for a cost of $56. Kimber credits the program's accessi- bility — both in terms of location and cost — as well as the need for these services in rural Manitoba, for its popularity, refer- encing a waitlist that quickly developed after the program first launched in 2019. The COVID-19 pandemic forced the program to pivot, moving sessions from in-person to online, but it didn't lose its momentum. Program participants re- ceived emailed or mailed education and exercise materials each week, covering a new topic in every package. "Heart attacks and cardiovascular dis- eases didn't stop with the pandemic," Kimber says. "The move to online allowed us to eliminate the fee, as well as the re- quirement to travel, allowing participants to complete the sessions in the comfort of their own space." The success of the Portage program soon led to programs being established in other rural communities. Nolan Turnbull is a kinesiologist in the Morden-Winkler area. He knew Kimber from a lab group at the University of Manitoba and was in- spired to help co-ordinate a cardiac reha- bilitation program for his community. "People are having heart attacks and heart procedures regularly and need that support to help them make those lifestyle changes so they can improve their quality of life and add years to their life beyond that event," Turnbull says. The Morden-Winkler program is slightly different from the Portage example, with clients able to access a chronic disease management clinician, respiratory thera- pist and a pharmacist, but the two pro- grams have the same goal: to improve cardiac rehab for Manitobans. The success of the programs is mea- sured not only by the number of refer- rals and overall demand but also in the achievements of the clients that Kimber, Turnbull and their colleagues see each day. "It's a really re- warding experi- ence," Kimber says. "We see clients making permanent lifestyle changes. Some- times they come back to see us and have found things like a pickleball group that no one was really aware of, right in their community." Turnbull says seeing the physical changes is what proves to him the pro- gram is fulfilling its goal. "Their ability to walk, their confidence around physical activity or their confi- dence in their body and their heart health, it's really gratifying," Turnbull adds. Kimber and Turnbull are thinking big when it comes to the future of rehabilita- tion programs in Manitoba, acknowledg- ing the individual needs that exist for dif- ferent groups. "It's all individual preference, but sometimes there are cultural barriers, sometimes women might not feel com- fortable exercising around men, some- times it comes down to accessibility," says Turnbull, who is hoping to create a safe and welcoming environment for women next. Whatever the client group, both Kim- ber and Turnbull are motivated to create rehabilitative programs that help individ- uals in need of cardiac care or manag- ing other chronic illnesses to remove the fear of exercising and physical activity. "Things like COPD, diabetes, cancer, there are opportunities for rehabilitative-type programs that are home-based or online," Kimber says. No matter how big their goals, Kimber and Turnbull's mission re- mains the same: finding innovative ways to bring rehabilitation care closer to home. S UPPLIED PHOTO Kinesiologist Dustin Kimber S UPPLIED PHOTO Kinesiologist Nolan Turnbull No matter how big their goals, Kimber and Turnbull's mission remains the same: finding innovative ways to bring rehabilitation care closer to home. Our goal was to allow clients to build back strength so they could regain — and then maintain — activities in their own communities." — Dustin Kimber, kinesiologist

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