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Compromise brings hope for London’s Cardiac Fitness Institute patients

Demonstrators outside MPP Deb Matthews' London office call on government to restore funding to the Cardiac Fitness Institute on March 15, 2018.
Demonstrators outside MPP Deb Matthews' London office call on government to restore funding to the Cardiac Fitness Institute on March 15, 2018. Liny Lamberink / 980 CFPL

Word that equipment, funding, and patients from the Cardiac Fitness Institute (CFI) are being moved to a different location is “a big relief,” for a woman who has helped spearhead protests against the program’s closure.

Joanne McIntosh said CFI patients contacted her Tuesday, after seeing London Health Sciences Centre officials looking at the facility’s inventory and equipment with a representative from the Canadian Centre for Activity and Aging (CCAA) at Western University.

McIntosh then called CFI founder, Dr. Larry Patrick, about a possible move to the CCAA.

“Once he gave his ‘okay’ for this program, I knew our fight was done,” she explained.

READ MORE: London patients campaign to save Cardiac Fitness Institute

At a provincial funding announcement for hospitals Friday morning, LHSC President and CEO Paul Woods said there would be an announcement about an “exceptional” plan next week that had received the blessing of Dr. Larry Patrick, and the Patient Family Advisory Committee.

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“It’s something that was arrived at by all stakeholders that was a great solution,” he said. “We won’t be re-opening the Cardiac Fitness Institute, but there will be a solution that is very satisfactory for everybody.”

The details are still murky, but McIntosh considers the move a partial win.

“The most important thing is the safety of these cardiac patients. And right now, from what I can see and hear, that is being addressed,” McIntosh said.

READ MORE: LHSC to close Cardiac Fitness Institute

McIntosh advocated for CFI to stay at its original Victoria Hospital location, and for government funding, but she says the compromise is bringing patients hope.

Under the original plan, patients with fewer than six months of care following a cardiac event would be sent to St. Joseph’s Hospital for provincially-funded therapy and counselling, while patients who already had six months of care would be encouraged to join a gym and visit their family doctor.

That would be “totally unacceptable,” McIntosh said.

Now, she’s confident all CFI patients will be transferred and given the opportunity to continue regular stress-testing and exercise they need.

“This is really giving us hope.”

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