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KTHR Implements the First Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program in a Rural Area and receives honorable mention for the SAHO Green Ribbon Award

KTHR Implements the First Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program in a Rural Area and receives honorable mention for the SAHO Green Ribbon Award

By Lia Boxall RN(NP) and Linda Barlow RN(NP)

Primary Health Care in the Kelsey Trail Health Region (KTHR) recognized the need for chronic care disease specific working groups to ensure best practice treatment and follow up starting in 2005 with the arthritis working group. In 2007, the respiratory working group formed. Working with the Lung Association of Saskatchewan, six nurse practitioners, two pharmacists and therapists completed both the COPD TREC and ASTHMA TREC four day programs. This became the baseline, evidence-based knowledge required to be part of the respiratory working group.  Using KTHR data,  the goal of the group was to increase accessibility to pulmonary rehabilitation for residents living with COPD. 


The Primary Health Care Team in Porcupine Plain, which includes Sandy Pieterse RN(NP) and Dr. Pieterse,  expressed the need for local Pulmonary Rehab in the KTHR.  The goal of the KTHR Pulmonary Rehab Program is to provide a local program that enables clients living with COPD to understand their disease, increase confidence in managing their condition and increase exercise tolerance. 


     The respiratory working group, consisting of the Therapies Department and Primary Health Care Departments (nurse practitioners), convened a meeting in September 2009 to plan the pilot of the Pulmonary Rehab program. It was decided that Nipawin and Porcupine Plain would be the first two locations to test the Pulmonary Rehab program via Telehealth.  Clients were referred to the program by the Physicians and the five Nurse Practitioners in the two communities (Pat Olson, Tara Rudy, Val Kimball, Louise Kowal, and Sandy Pieterse).  The exercise component of the program was offered in person in both sites.   The exercises were then led by a Physical Therapist in Nipawin and one Exercise Therapist traveled from Nipawin to Porcupine Plain 2x/week for the 6 weeks and did the supervised exercise component of the program.  The Nurse Practitioner from Porcupine Plain mentored with the Exercise Therapist so that she could run future exercise sessions on her own.  The COPD education sessions were provided via the telehealth network.  The presenters included Nurse Practitioners, a mental health counselor, physiotherapist, community pharmacist, community dietitian and exercise therapist.

In Spring 2010, Melfort was added as there were a lot of clients waiting for Pulmonary Rehab there.  In Fall 2010, due to expressed demand in Tisdale and availability of a Nurse Practitioner (Lia Boxall) to assist with the exercise component, Tisdale was added as a fourth site.  In Fall 2010, Spiritwood and Big River Primary Health Care Sites (in PAPHR) asked if they could join in our education component of Pulmonary Rehab.  In the spirit of collaboration, we agreed and a great partnership arose.

We have had approximately 64 participants participate in the program to date.  With further development and expansion of the program over time, more KTHR residents with COPD have access to the best practice of Pulmonary Rehab closer to their homes.  Congratulations to all the team members who have improved access to pulmonary rehab for KTHR residents.  The honorable mention Green Ribbon award is well deserved!