Ken Scullion volunteers with the Regional Cardiovascular Rehabilitation and Secondary Prevention Service (CRSP) at the Rouge Valley Centenary (RVC) site in Scarborough, Ontario.
RVC is one of several CRSP sites, which includes locations throughout the Central East Local Health Integration Network. Cardiac patients, and those at risk of a cardiac event, can choose a service site which is close-to-home. The service relies on a multidisciplinary team of health professionals (see sidebar), including volunteers like Ken Scullion.
Scullion is one of approximately 80 volunteers working with CRSP services, and he draws on a wealth of experience; after his heart event in 2011, he too was a cardiac patient. This is a part of the requirement to be a volunteer here. “All volunteers have had a cardiac event or procedure and have been past program participants,” says Lynn Scholey, an exercise therapist. “We are grateful for the unique and significant role that our volunteers play. As past patients supporting our current patients, they play a key role that staff cannot.”
Brian Kelly, a former patient and now the volunteer convenor for the service, agrees. “When patients realize we’ve all had heart struggles, it gives us credibility with them,” he says. “Each volunteer has faced their own cardiac health challenge and anxiety. We are all living proof that you can channel that anxiety into an exciting recovery.”
Read more: Cardiac volunteers work and walk with heart