Bairnsdale Regional Health Service1
We can all agree that there was not an area of healthcare that was not affected by or remains affected by COVID-19. Sadly, even in the face of COVID-19, the people of East Gippsland still had cardiac events, cardiac surgeries and were diagnosed with new cardiac conditions.
Pre- COVID the Cardiac Rehabilitation group at Bairnsdale Regional Health Service (BRHS), comprised of face-to-face sessions. Due to physical distance restrictions with COVID, the program converted to the online world.
The objective of our online telehealth program was the same as previous face-to-face sessions – provide ongoing support for those following a cardiac event, help make long-term lifestyle changes, lower the chance of future cardiac events and live a longer, healthier life.
Our Cardiac Rehabilitation Telehealth Exercise program was freely accessible to all eligible patients. Each weekly telehealth session was run completely online by a physiotherapist and allied health assistant. The sessions included a safety brief, warm up/cool down, exercise, support and motivation! The exercises remained tailored to the individual with modifications demonstrated so that there was something for everyone.
Ongoing technology support was provided each week. Participants required a device with internet access and preferably an email to access resources that were provided.
This program allowed us to continue to provide a much needed service to our community – as without this patients would have missed out on evidence based health care post cardiac event. Whilst knowing that telehealth won’t work for everybody, we knew that something was definitely better that nothing and we had an opportunity to embrace change in such uncertain times.
The telehealth program has had an ongoing ripple effect with care provision and servicing for the wider community. Broader application to post COVID-19 times has been discussed and telehealth will remain a part of the program at BRHS. This will allow services to reach people in the broader rural community who for whatever reason, such as transport, illness, or reduced mobility, are unable to attend face to face sessions.
Eilis O’Haire (I-Lish) is an enthusiastic physiotherapist who strives to find the best outcomes available through evidence based patient centred care. She has used this difficult time through all things COVID to encapsulate the phrase “every cloud has a silver living”, embracing the use of technology in her practice