Expanded cardiology services offer comprehensive care close to home

By Julie Dowdie

Throughout her cardiac care journey, Vassa Blandizzi has been grateful for the newly expanded cardiology services at Markham Stouffville Hospital (MSH).

Last December, Blandizzi hadn’t been feeling well for a while and, thinking she might have pneumonia, made a trip to MSH’s Emergency Department.

She was admitted to the inpatient cardiology unit and the team immediately diagnosed her with cardiomyopathy – a disease of the heart muscle that reduces its ability to pump blood.

“I was very impressed with MSH. They took incredible care of me,” she said.

Following her discharge from hospital, she received ongoing care through MSH’s new outpatient Heart Function clinic. The clinic is staffed by speciality registered nurses, cardiac nurse practitioners and cardiologists who work together to provide education about heart failure, lifestyle modifications and the best available medications so patients can live as symptom-free as possible.

Once Blandizzi’s heart function improved, her healthcare team recommended she join MSH’s Cardiovascular Rehab and Wellness program.  Launched this past spring, the 26-week program is led by MSH physiotherapists and includes weekly exercise and education sessions in partnership with the neighbouring Cornell Community Centre, as well as nutrition classes and access to important community resources.

Vassa Blandizzi walks on the track at the Cornell Community Centre.

“The staff have been so attentive, diligent and compassionate in monitoring me with a personalized program to promote and ensure success in strengthening my heart function,” she shared. “I’ve even started doing more of my own exercises at home.”

Blandizzi is excited by the improvements she’s witnessed in her heart function since being part of the two programs. However, she admits that, as a generally healthy person who never smoked, her sudden cardiac issues left her with a lot of anxiety.

“My nurse practitioner, Hilary Eaton, was also very helpful in referring me to stress reduction programs at the hospital that have really made a big difference,” she explained.

“Vassa’s care journey at MSH is a perfect example of how our interdisciplinary team delivers an extraordinary experience to the thousands of patients we care for in our Cardiology unit each year,” said Liz Lalingo, Director of the Medicine program at MSH.

Outside of her cardiac care, Blandizzi – a Stouffville resident for more than 10 years – shares that she and her family have all had very positive experiences at the hospital.

“I’ve also come to MSH for my regular mammograms and one of my daughters gave birth at the hospital,” she said.

“We’ve always found the staff and physicians friendly and upbeat, creating an intimate environment that never feels institutional.”

To learn more about the many services offered through MSH’s Cardiology unit, visit www.msh.on.ca/cardiology.





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