Stawell delivering comradery, exercise and health checks

Graeme Wilson has been a regular client at Grampians Health’s Stawell campus for the past six years.

Twice a week, the retired bus driver attends the cardio/pulmonary rehab at the campus gymnasium to keep his health in check.

Graeme had open heart surgery in 1997 which included a five-way bypass. A few years later the same symptoms returned so he had to give up his job.

“I got partially blocked arteries again but they couldn’t do anything with it because of where I’d had the operation before,” Graeme said. “So, I just started coming to the rehab groups so they could keep an eye on things and have a regular check-up.

“Apart from keeping an eye on my health, I enjoy the social side of it as well. I meet a lot of new people.”

Graeme had plenty of praise for the Community Health nurse Viv Cole who led the sessions.

“Viv is a great instructor and has plenty of good advice. It’s very reassuring,” he said. “I find this a very big help because I live on my own, so the comradery is just as good for me as the exercise and health checks.”

Viv has been running the cardio/pulmonary rehab groups for the past 10 years and introduced the combined maintenance groups for those who wanted to continue with the program.

“Most people are referred to us after a cardiac or pulmonary admission and those sessions run for eight weeks and there are not many community program options for the patient after that,” Viv said.

“So, we made the decision to run these joint maintenance groups for people who want to participate longer and hopefully we are keeping them fit and keeping them out of hospital.

“Graeme has been a participant in both groups. He started as a cardio patient and was later referred as a pulmonary patient and he enjoys it so much that he wanted to keep coming.

“So, we made sure that could happen for him and many others as well.”

Viv said participants couldn’t attend the groups during COVID so Telehealth classes were substituted and they proved to be very helpful for both fitness and social connection.

“Graeme was one who attended all of those classes during that time,” she said. “These programs are very important for the Stawell and district community.

“It’s reassuring for the participants because they are getting their heart rate and blood pressure tested regularly while they exercise and if there are any abnormalities we take them over to Urgent Care.

“It’s a good social outing for many of them as well.”

Viv takes five groups, two for cardiac and three for pulmonary which is a total of around 60 patients twice weekly.

Pulmonary classes are for those with lung conditions including emphysema, asthma, lung cancer and post COVID symptoms.

“We help them to exercise in a safe environment” Viv said.