How North Vancouver’s BREATH team is a lung patient’s dream team

As few as one in 100 Canadians with chronic lung disease currently have access to pulmonary rehabilitation — a program of exercise and education proven to significantly improve patient quality of life. Even fewer have access to programs as comprehensive as the BREATH program held at Lions Gate Hospital in North Vancouver.

Available to doctor-referred patients with COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and IPF (idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis), BREATH is operated by a multidisciplinary team consisting of a registered nurse, a physiotherapist and an occupational therapist. The program runs four times a year, and takes place over five weeks with patients attending twice a week. It even includes a series of guest lectures delivered by a respirologist, social worker, pharmacist and dietitian.

We had a chat with long-time BREATH team nurse, Eve Dedinsky, in order to dig a little deeper.

Why is pulmonary rehab so valuable?

When patients come to our program, all that they know is they have trouble breathing and need to take medicine to help. Our goal is to teach them to manage their conditions by making a plan and sticking to it. And by ensuring, in spite of breathing symptoms, they exercise in order to maximize their lung capacity. It’s natural to feel depressed when faced with a progressive lung disease diagnosis, but when you get moving you feel so much better. And of course, there’s the camaraderie of being with people with similar challenges.

Once patients have completed the program, we offer maintenance options for those unable to exercise at home or who need extra support. For our maintenance members, we make sure to book an annual physical exam. This helps us adapt as a person’s condition changes over time. For example, we may need to integrate extra social supports, such as HandyDART for those with mobility issues. These are all key components of an action plan that enables patients to live life to the fullest.

What if a patient doesn’t feel comfortable with a group program?

We respect that. Group programs aren’t for everyone. Some patients face either physical or psychological barriers. Our respiratory therapist Barb Moore is part of the team at group pulmonary rehab meetings, but she is also able to set up one-on-one visits with patients, either in our offices or at home upon referral by our program manager or a physician. When Barb meets with patients, her goal is to ensure they understand their condition and how to use their medications properly.

Barb also stresses the importance of exercise, and demonstrates rescue breathing methods to help patients cope when symptoms flare up. Then about a month after her initial visit, and again at three months, she makes follow-up calls. The phone conversations provide an opportunity for patients to ask questions. While Barb can’t go as deep as the rehab team does during group sessions, it’s still really valuable — and for some people, it’s what they prefer.

Meet the BREATH team

 

“A problem with lung disease is too few people know about their condition, and even fewer know about pulmonary rehab programs.”

Eve Dedinsky, Nurse & COPD educator

Eve is the onsite nurse and COPD educator for the BREATH program at Lions Gate Hospital in North Vancouver.

 

 

 

“When I meet patients, many will tell me I am the first person to really talk to them about their condition. I suspect their doctor already did, but it can be hard to take it all in when first diagnosed.”

Barb Moore, Respiratory Therapist & Educator

Barb supports the BREATH program team by providing one-on-one patient counselling as needed.

 

“Exercise is integral to optimizing quality of breathing in patients with chronic lung diseases. That’s why exercise is a major component of every high-quality pulmonary rehabilitation program around the world — because it works!”

Scott Bolton, Physiotherapist

Scott is responsible for developing and delivering the program’s exercise component as well as adapting exercises to patient needs.

 

 

 

“Managing everyday tasks can be challenging for those with lung conditions. Learning ways to combat fatigue and shortness of breath, as well as using modified techniques and adaptive equipment, can maximize a person’s ability to participate in daily activities.”

Janet Pursell, Occupational Therapist  

Janet teaches lifestyle management strategies including energy conservation, stress management, relaxation/deep breathing, sleep hygiene and provides information on community resources.

Learn more about pulmonary rehab program and find a program in your area.

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Page Last Updated: 06/12/2018