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Getting to the Heart of the Issue

Friday, November 8, 2013

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  • Sharon Steenburg, Teréz Szöke, Dr. Bill Winegard, Keisha Davis (front) and Faiza Omar.

    Sharon Steenburg, Teréz Szöke, Dr. Bill Winegard, Keisha Davis (front) and Faiza Omar.

Written by Alice Lin

University of Guelph students in a Capacity Development and Extension course help in advocating to re-establish a pacemaker clinic in the city that has been challenging for many folks in the Guelph Community. The four students were brought together through the Community Environmental Leadership class with a mission to seek the welfare and improve the health of hundreds of pacemaker patients, their families and of Guelph residence.

The local pacemaker clinic at the Guelph General Hospital officially closed this past summer in an effort to regionalize health services. This political decision led to the relocation of the clinic to St. Mary’s Hospital in Kitchener, which is causing problems to roughly 750 pacemaker clients in Guelph. “Pacemaker patients now must drive further to receive the essential care and services they need and is extremely problematic especially in emergency situations” said Keisha Davis, an international graduate student in the Capacity Development Extension program with research interest in ethno-cultural vegetable. There are also at-home care and services that is available to patients but would be too costly if it were to serve all 750 patients in Guelph.

Overall health and wellness of Guelph residents that require regular check-ups are indeed heavily affected by the relocation of the clinic, particularly the elderly. “The decision affects patients more than previously thought and the relocation is creating a difficult accessibility problem for them” said Faiza Omar, currently a graduate student in the Capacity Development Extension program, with research interest in sexual and reproductive health rights in rural communities under the Capacity Development Extension program. The students also met with former U of G president, Dr. Bill Winegar¾who is the leading advocate in the community-to get a better understanding in order to get to the heart of the issue.

To raise help awareness around this issue, the students led an open house information session back in October at the Arboretum Centre. They were able to bring attention in introducing new form of remote pacemaker monitoring system by Medtronic. This remote monitoring system will be conducting a pilot program in Guelph though will not be able to service more resource intensive procedures such as replacements. “It is not something that everyone can use. There are still accessibility issues affecting about 50% of the patients” said Omar.

The students continue to work towards advocating for a remote clinic in the local vicinity. Through this project, they gained various advocacy skills to help put information out to the public. “It was a learning process,” said Teréz Szöke, “we had to find our own ability to relate to this issue and we were happy to be able to help speak on behalf of seniors and other pacemaker patients in the Guelph community about this issue”. Szöke is a graduate student studying the political impact of art in communities under the Geography department.

For more information and material about the students’ work as well as this issue, visit http://pacemakerguelph.weebly.com.

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