1580 Pembroke Street Victoria, BC V8R 1W2

In The News

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The First Open Heart Society has donated a generous $45,000 to the Victoria Hospitals Foundation in support of Heart Health at Royal Jubilee Hospital. Since 1977, the First Open Heart Society has donated more than $776,545 to cardiac care in Victoria through the Victoria Hospitals Foundation.

The donation is supporting the Foundation’s $3.5 million You Are Vital campaign, and will help fund the purchase of a wearable cardiac monitor for the Heart Health unit at Royal Jubilee Hospital. This technology allows the Heart Health team to monitor the electrical cardiac functioning of a patient while they are engaged in their normal daily activities. Dr. Chris Franco, Medical Lead for the Coronary Care Unit and Cardiology, notes the importance of advanced decision-making equipment, stating “cardiac care is getting more complicated, more complex, and we want to be as prepared as we can be.”

“We are so grateful for the long time support of The First Open Heart Society and their efforts to improve Cardiac Care on Vancouver Island. Their generous gifts have helped so many people in our communities have access to the leading-edge cardiac technology that ultimately saves their lives,” said Melanie Mahlman, President & CEO of the Victoria Hospitals Foundation. “The leadership and commitment they have demonstrated to our community is extraordinary.”

The First Open Heart Society of British Columbia was formed in 1973 on the initiative of cardiologists and early heart surgery patients to function as a support group for patients awaiting and recovering from heart surgery. The idea was first conceived by Dr. W. Glenn Freisen, a Victoria cardiologist, who realized patients and their families experience significant stress prior to, and following, open heart surgery.

Jim Weaver, President of First Open Heart Society, was on hand to present the cheque. “We are strongly committed to supporting Cardiac Care through the Victoria Hospitals Foundation. We take pride and comfort in knowing that when people from across Vancouver Island require live-saving heart surgery or treatment, Royal Jubilee is well equipped to provide state-of-the-art care.”

Every year, over 200,000 Vancouver Island residents undergo cardiac assessment, and more than 6,300 cardiac procedures are performed through Royal Jubilee Hospital’s Heart Health program. Over the past 30 years, our Heart Health program has become a national leader in cardiac care, overseeing 3,500 inpatient cases annually, with half from outside Greater Victoria. The Heart Health program administers to all cardiac needs, with the exception of heart transplants. Every year, almost two dozen talented cardiac physicians and hundreds of specially-trained caregivers perform hundreds of cardiac procedures.

To learn more about the You Are Vital campaign, visit www.victoriahf.ca/vital

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Ray Calton, Carol Connolly, Suzzane Barton, Jim Weaver, Bruce Dyck, Dr. Lynn Fedoruk

The First Open Heart Society of BC donation of $25,000.00 to the Victoria Hospitals Foundation. Last year alone, nearly 1,400 cardiac procedures were performed at Royal Jubilee Hospital, including 700 open heart surgeries, all relying on important medical equipment like the Heart Retractor and Patient Stretcher funded by the First Open Heart Society of BC.

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Doris Nicholson, President of First Open heart Society Of BC (L) is pictured with Allen Davenport, a Perfusionist with Island Health, and Cathy McIntyre, Board Chair of VHF

Huge thanks to The First Open Heart Society of BC for making a $50,000 donation to fund a leading-edge piece of cardiac equipment at Royal Jubilee. The cell saver, pictured here, is used during open-heart and vascular surgeries to counter blood loss. It recovers the blood a patient loses, and instead of being discarded, it's given back to the patient after being cleansed and filtered. It’s very comforting for patients to know their own blood is being returned to them. Since 1980, the First Open Heart Society has donated more than $706,000 to Cardiac Care in Victoria. We are so grateful for their generous support over the years!

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Presentation by the Town of Sidney for the defibrillators that were funded by the First Open Heart Society and the Rotary Club of Sidney by the Sea.

From left: Sidney by the Sea Rotary Club president Hein Moes, Terry Riley president of the First Open Heart Society, Sidney Deputy Fire Chief Brett Mickkelson, manager of the SHOAL Activity Centre Judy Wiggins, Sidney councillor Kenny Podmore and Sidney councillor/acting mayor Steve Price.

Steven Heywood Photo/Peninsula News Review/Black Press. June 2013


At our Victoria Chapter meeting on Sunday, March 10th, 2013, we had the pleasure of welcoming our guest speaker, Catherine Hodgins, Director, Heart Health and Adult Intensive Care at Royal Jubilee Hospital. Catherine presented an informative up-date on the new services/procedures available. We felt the information we received was of importance to all our members and so we share the following:


Since the spring of 2012, Tele-Cardiology consultations have brought care closer to home for patients and have also improved access to specialized cardiac teams for patients who would normally travel long distances for face-to-face consultations. Tele-Cardiology is easy to use for cardiac patients and health care team members, and provides an experience as satisfying as an in-person consultation. A digital stethoscope provides real-time patient assessment that can be transmitted and interpreted through telephone or over the internet. Cardiology and Internal Medicine specialists at the Heart Function Clinics located in Victoria, Nanaimo, and Campbell River can assess heart sounds of patients located at one of 11 remote sites including Port Hardy, Port McNeill, Gold River, and Tofino. While 31 patients have been followed since the launch, an estimated 300 patients can be followed annually through this service. Other sites in B.C. are also introducing this technology.

Tele-Home Monitoring:

Heart Health is collaborating with Home and Community Care and Information Management and Technology to increase the use of tele-home monitoring for congestive heart failure patients across VIHA. Tele-home monitoring enables patients to remotely transmit information about their weight and blood pressure to their Home and Community Care Nurse, providing reassurance that changes in their chronic condition can be identified and managed by their care provider. Since the introduction of tele-home monitoring, 255 patients have used the technology, and with additional monitors available this year, more patients will be able to be monitored in their own home. Through the use of this technology, patients have enhanced their self management skills, length of stay in hospital has been decreased, and readmissions to hospital have been reduced. Results from a pilot in 2011 showed a 61% reduction in hospital admissions, a 75% reduction in length of stay, and a 65% reduction in emergency department visits. The work to expand tele-home monitoring is part of a provincial initiative and VIHA has been asked to lead the development of the care pathway for this work.

Transcatheter Aortic Valve Implantation:

Transcatheter Aortic Valve Implantation (TAVI) is an emerging technology that is a less invasive alternative to open heart surgery. This procedure involves insertion of a collapsible aortic valve through a catheter guided into the heart through an artery in the leg. Once the catheter reaches the heart, a balloon expands to position the new valve in place.

Up until July 2012, when VIHA launched a TAVI program, the procedure was only available in the province at St. Paul's Hospital in Vancouver. TAVI is offered to patients whose clinical conditions deem them not a candidate for open heart surgery, which is consistent with provincial criteria. To date, twelve procedures have been completed. The procedure takes half the time of a traditional open heart surgery procedure, and patients are typically discharged home 48 hours after the procedure, whereas patients typically stay for five to seven days following open heart surgery. VIHA has been commended provincially for its work to introduce this successful program.


By the end of March of this year, VIHA will have the capability to monitor pacemakers and ICDs remotely. In partnership with the companies who make these devices, VIHA will be launching remote monitoring in Central and North Island. The first company to launch is Medtronic, then St. Jude, followed by Boston Scientific. This program will reduce the number of visits to Victoria that out-of-town patients are required to take on an annual basis as their device can be assessed and monitored through telephone line.

(With thanks to Catherine Hodgins for sharing her notes)


At our recent General Meeting of the First Open Heart Society in Victoria, our Guest Speaker, Dawn Dompierre, Advance Care Planning RN, Seniors Integrated Health Network at VIHA provided an Advance Care Planning presentation which included new legislation effective September 1, 2011.

Advance Care Planning is a process of reflection and communication, a time for you to reflect on your values and wishes, and to let others know your future health and personal care preferences in the event that you become incapable of consenting to or refusing treatment or other care.

The new 52 page Advance Care Planning Guide titled:

My Voice, Expressing My Wishes for Future Health Care Treatment, Advance Care Planning Guide.

This document contains everything you need to complete your own care plan.
It is currently available on line and can be located one of the following ways for you to print:

Place a copy of your important health care information (examples: Advance care planning documents, Representation agreements, current medication list, do not resuscitate order from your G.P., etc.) in an envelope on your fridge as paramedics will only look on the fridge for this information.

More information on Advance Care Planning can be found at the following websites:

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