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Western University facility adopting patients impacted by Cardiac Fitness Institute closure

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

Members of the soon-closing Cardiac Fitness Institute (CFI) are being welcomed to the Canadian Centre for Activity and Aging (CCAA) at Western University.

The CCAA has developed new fitness opportunities as an option for members of the CFI, once it closes on April 27, with the help of the London Health Sciences Centre.

READ MORE: Compromise brings hope for London’s Cardiac Fitness Institute patients

The CCAA, based in Western’s Faculty of Health Sciences, does research and program development for improved physical ability and healthy aging for older adults.

It’ll be offering new classes, specifically targeting cardiovascular health, on top of its current class schedule. The LHSC is also donating treadmills, exercise bikes, weight training equipment, and stress tests units to the CCAA.

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Clara Fitzgerald, CCAA Program Director, says it’s a “natural fit” for CFI members.

“We’ll be able to offer them everything they had while they were exercise members of CFI, right here at the Canadian Centre for Activity and Aging.”

Fitzgerald says annual stress tests will continue, while members will also get the benefit of free parking, engagement with Western students, opportunities to take part in research studies, and a fitness appraisal that’ll offer a “better understanding of [member’s] overall functional level of ability.”

“This opportunity for current CFI members has been months in the making and everyone at the CCAA is incredibly excited for what’s to come in terms of programming, growth and continued research excellence,” she said.

READ MORE: LHSC to close Cardiac Fitness Institute

But without details of what the care will look like, London Health Coalition co-chair Jeff Hanks doesn’t think it’s cause for celebration.

In fact, he says patients are feeling apprehensive.

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“I think there’s going to be loss of quality moving to the new place. Like it’s great that they’re going to be able to continue and exercise, but I think if it’s not the same program, we all lose.”

One of the concerns, Hanks said, is whether there will be a cardiologist on site.

“As soon as there was something wrong, apparent while they were exercising, they could be referred to or analyzed by somebody, a therapist, who is really knowledgeable about heart issues,” he explained.

“The patients are very concerned that that level of service won’t exist anymore.”

Patients are hoping the details will slide into focus during open houses at the CCAA, starting Thursday.

Paul Woods, the president and CEO of the LHSC, said the hospital has been working closely with the CFI’s Patient Advisory Committee since CFI’s closure was announced at the start of the year.

In a letter to patients, he said the CFI’s donated funds would go towards the transfer of equipment to the CCAA and towards start-up memberships for CFI patients.

“This opportunity with the CCAA represents the results of that collaborative work and we are very pleased to have established a positive option for CFI members,” he said.

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Dates and times for new classes will be communicated once they’re built into the schedule.

New cardiovascular programming information will be posted on the CCAA website, while information regarding the transition for CFI members can be found on the LHSC website.